Tom Arscott in action for Sale Sharks at Adams Park
1 March 2014, 05:20 pm ::
By Chris Bailey
London Wasps 17 Sale Sharks 21
Danny Cipriani ran the show on his return to Adams Park as Sale Sharks reasserted their Aviva Premiership top-four credentials with a 21-17 victory over London Wasps.
Cipriani, who was called into action moments into the match after Nick MacLeod's injury, collected 11 points from the tee and put Johnny Leota through for a second-half try.
Joe Simpson had put Wasps ahead just after the break - in addition to Joe Carlisle's four penalties - after Dan Braid had dotted down to give Sale the early initiative.
MacLeod started at fly-half for the Sharks but his game was cut short after seven minutes after Simpson was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous challenge.
In his place, Cipriani duly teed up the penalty and split the posts to ensure Sale took the early initiative at Adams Park.
It did not take long for the visitors to press home their one-man advantage either, David Seymour picking up a bobbling ball to set free Braid, who weaved his way through a static Wasps defence to dot down.
However, the hosts started to win back a bit of momentum and Carlisle started to chip away with his boost, knocking through the first points on the board for Wasps on the 17th minute.
Moments later James Gaskell was then forced to ground the ball behind his own try-line by Chris Bell and Carlisle needed no invitation to step up with another penalty.
Wasps then stole a lineout and barrelled all the way up to within five metres, but they had to settle for a penalty as Carlisle made it three out of three.
Both teams then cancelled each other out for the rest of the first half - but the hosts made sure they took the game by the scruff of the neck after the break.
A relentless period of attacking play was rewarded with another penalty and Carlisle's deadeye kicking put their noses in front for the first time all afternoon.
Almost immediately after Simpson picked up the ball on the right wing and charged past the Sale defence to score in the corner to end a scintillating run.
Carlisle then missed a very difficult conversion but it was his opposite number Cipriani who soon assumed control of the match.
He weaved his way through Wasps lines on the hour-mark and offloaded to Leota on the left-wing, who crashed over for the try.
The conversion attempt was just wide but after Sale overwhelmed the Wasps' scrum, Cipriani nailed a perfect 40-metre penalty to retake the lead.
In an increasingly tight contest Carlisle had been replaced by Andy Goode, but missed his own chance from the kicking tee to drag his side right back into the game.
From there Sale started pushing for the killer try with consecutive scrums and the try-line looming, yet a wonderful Cipriani wrapped up the win himself with a final three-pointer in the dying minutes.