Saracens 18 Northampton 12: McCall heaps praise on ‘exemplary’ Hodgson as Sarries keep pace with leaders Harlequins

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Charlie Hodgson did little to harm his chances of an England recall with six penalties in a narrow Saracens victory that reduced Harlequins’ lead at the top of the Aviva Premiership to four points.

Ryan Lamb, who replaced Stephen Myler five minutes from time, rescued a losing bonus point for Saints with a 79th-minute penalty.

Saracens’ director of rugby Mark McCall said: “Charlie was outstanding. His place-kicking was exemplary and his game-management tremendous, particularly when we came under pressure in the first half.

“All Charlie can do in terms of England selection is what he did, perform to a high standard.

“He has got himself back in contention for the England squad and England now have a decision to make with both Charlie and Toby Flood fit again and available.

“I am really chuffed for the club because we are still in second place in the table and now we go to Abu Dhabi for a short break and to freshen up.”

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter felt his players had set the record straight on two fronts with a 37-12 win over Sale.

The home side scored five tries kept their unbeaten run against Sale going and moved up to fifth.

Baxter said: “I think the players wanted to put the record straight after the relatively close loss to Bath, but they also wanted to put the record straight after what happened at Sale when many felt that the Sharks had thrown it away.”