Sale overcome Harlequins 29-23 after a much improved second-half display
Quins led 13-9 at the break thanks to two penalties from Ben Botica and Tim Visser’s converted try
Scores from TJ Ioane and Will Addison saw Sharks come back to win
Sam Egerton’s late try secures Quins a losing bonus-point
Sale came from behind to maintain their 11-month unbeaten run at the AJ Bell Stadium by beating Harlequins 29-23 in the Aviva Premiership.
Quins picked up a losing bonus point, with a late converted try, which could prove crucial at the end of the season, but Sale were the real victors, moving above their opponents on points difference into fifth place.
The Sharks had made a statement last week after matching Premiership leaders Saracens in a pulsating 36-36 draw but today failed to play anywhere near their best in the opening 40.
Three penalties for the hosts via Joe Ford, the older brother of England’s fly-half George, were cancelled out by two from Ben Botica, and a converted Tim Visser try as Quins, who had only won one of their last six games in all competitions, took a surprise but deserved 13-9 lead into half-time.
The hosts nevertheless improved after the restart. Instead of going to the posts with a penalty, Sale instead opted for the line-out and was rewarded when TJ Ioane forced the ball down following a dominant driving maul after 47 minutes. Ford then added the extras, 16-13.
Sale’s lead though didn’t last long as Ben Botica’s left boot puts Quins back on level terms.
Danny Cipriani off the bench though struck the hosts back in front from the tee before combining with Peter Stringer in a move which saw Will Addison cross the whitewash following Sam James’ offload. Cipriani then added the extras, which gave Sale a ten-point lead with an hour gone, 26-16.
The fly-half then landed another penalty for the Sharks with six minutes remaining to extend the hosts lead to 13 points.
The visitors though were able to grab a consolation with two minutes to go as young scrum-half Sam Egerton touched down before Botica slotted the crucial conversion to ensure Quins headed back to the capital with what could be a vital losing bonus-point, 29-23.
Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Tom Arscott, 10 Joe Ford, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Mark Easter, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Andrei Ostirkov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Mark Jennings
Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Harry Sloan, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Mat Luamanu, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Mark Lambert
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Joe Marchant, 23 Charlie Walker
Date: Saturday, March 5
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium, Salford
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Steve Lee
TMO: Trevor Fisher