Danny Cipriani’s try 11 minutes from time sealed an impressive 31-26 victory for Sale Sharks who exacted revenge over Harlequins for their LV= Cup final defeat last season.
Harlequins had pulled back to 24-23 down before replacement Cipriani delivered the telling blow to get the Sharks’ campaign back on track after last weekend’s defeat to Bath Rugby and inflict a second straight defeat on the Londoners.
First-half tries from Dave Seymour and Rob Miller had swung the momentum in Sale’s favour after Ben Botica opened the scoring for the hosts and when James Gaskell scored the visitors’ third, they were in control.
Charlie Walker and a Botica penalty brought Harlequins back into it before Cipriani’s try and while the New Zealander added another penalty with seven minutes to go, there was no way back for Conor O’Shea’s side.
After eight minutes, Charlie Walker burst through the line, he then found himself one-on-one but was able to offload it onto an onrushing Ben Botica who then converted his try.
On 20 minutes a fine break from Mike Haley saw the full-back just about prevented by the Harlequins defence but the Sharks shifted the ball to the left to allow David Seymour a try which Nick Macleod converted.
Three minutes later Sale won themselves a penalty and Macleod opted to kick at goal, putting the Sharks 10-7 ahead.
Soon after Harlequins captain Luke Wallace was sent to the sin bin after conceding consecutive penalties but Harlequins managed to hold their own and relieve the pressure.
And the Sharks extended their lead on 34 minutes when Rob Miller burst through – Macleod converting.
An inspired run from Tom Williams mounted pressure for Harlequin as the half was coming to a close and they managed to win a penalty which Botica notched in added time, ensuring the hosts trailed 17-10 at the interval.
Five minutes into the second half Quins earned themselves a penalty and Botica trimmed the deficit to four but Sale responded just three minutes later.
The visitors kicked a penalty into touch which then resulted in a maul and Gaskell forced the ball over the line – Macleod was on target with the conversion.
Back came Harlequins again however and Walker rounded off a fine move before Botica converted and when he added the penalty, the difference was just one point.
But then came a moment of magic from Cipriani as his dummy, following a quickly taken penalty, saw him break through. Macleod converted and while Botica scored another penalty, the Sharks clung on for the win.
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