A late penalty by replacement Nick Macleod gave Sale Sharks a priceless victory in a see-saw contest at fellow strugglers London Welsh to give their fight against relegation from the Aviva Premiership a massive boost.
It was a tense match that saw the lead change four times and was extremely error-strewn at times but the Sharks finished the game strongly to claim the spoils at the Kassam Stadium.
The result takes them to within a single point of London Irish at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership, with Welsh now just three points clear of the trap door.
Danny Cipriani struck the first blow for Sale when he booted over a tenth-minute penalty after London Welsh’s forwards were pinged for wheeling a scrum.
But they were to almost immediately relinquish their advantage when Alex Davies kicked three points of his own to level the score for the hosts.
Gavin Henson then almost put Welsh ahead with a penalty from the half-way line and while distance wasn’t a problem for the Welshman, the ball drifted wide of the left-hand post.
But Davies was to succeed with a much simpler effort after 26 minutes when Tom Holmes was penalised for going over the top of a ruck.
The London Welsh scrum-half then doubled the lead to six points just short of the half-hour after a strong carry towards the line by Ed Jackson.
The Sharks continued to be punished for their poor discipline when Henson hammered over a long-range penalty take the score to 12-3 before Cipriani quickly pulled back three points.
The Sharks then hit the front with the final play of the half with a superb move down the right that saw Cipriani and Charlie Amesbury swap passes before the former sent the ball inside for Will Cliff to go over with Cipriani converting.
The visitors picked up where they left off in the second half when former Australia international Cameron Shepherd sent Daniel Braid through a huge gap on the right to score.
Cipriani added the extras but Davies soon reduced the gap to five points by smacking over his fourth penalty with what his last touch of the match.
And the match took yet another twist when Henson’s off-load just reached Canadian winger Phil MacKenzie, who swept over before Henson’s conversion put Welsh back into the lead.
Henson then took the score to 25-20 in the hosts’ favour with another penalty but Cipriani instantly cancelled this out with one of his own almost straight from the restart.
He was to be replaced by Macleod, who knocked over the simplest of penalties from under the posts with eight minutes left and the Sharks kept their heads at the end to seal the most important of victories.