Sale Sharks pulled away at the death thanks to Danny Cipriani’s eagle-eyed kicking, as they ended their four-game winless streak in Aviva Premiership Rugby with a dogged victory over Wasps.
In conditions hardly favourable to running rugby, this was a war of attrition that Cipriani settled at the end by keeping his cool with a penalty and then a drop-goal in the last five minutes against his former club.
Wasps, who have now suffered three consecutive defeats in the league following their fine run in Europe, took a 6-3 half-time lead in thanks to Jimmy Gopperth's penalty and an Elliot Daly drop-goal.
Cipriani also scored a penalty before missing a drop-goal in the first half, but atoned for his error by notching 12 further points after the break in an all-action display.
Sale kept the action firmly inside Wasps’ 22 for the opening minutes of play, with the backs offloading fluidly and looking dangerous in open play.
And Cipriani kicked the first three points of the match with six minutes gone, after under-pressure Wasps were penalised for being offside.
Minutes later, Joe Simpson was forced to clear his side’s lines as Mike Haley brought Sharks within metres of scoring once more but the opportunity was lost for the hosts after an attempted chip that dropped into touch.
The home crowd were on their feet again however as Tom Arscott, Will Addison and Haley linked up and tore down the pitch, a move halted only by Rob Miller’s tackle on his opposite number.
Wasps finally made a move with 11 minutes left in the first half as Sharks old boy Miller made a break for the try-line, but Chris Cusiter made a try saving last-gasp tackle and the ball popped out of the fullback’s hands before it could make contact.
Wasps' efforts were soon rewarded however, as Sharks were pinged for offside, and Gopperth kicked a neat three points for the visitors to bring the scores level.
Wasps had a final push as the clock went red and Daly took the opportunity of being in front of the posts to pop over drop goal.
Sale were the first off the mark in the second half, looking threatening in Wasps’ half but the ball was spilled and the visitors quickly countered.
Sale drove Wasps off the ball with a scrum after 55 minutes and Cipriani took a simple three points to level the scores.
Cipriani was given the chance to put his side ahead with 15 minutes left to play, and kicked his third successful penalty of the match.
After a period of pressure from the visitors Wasps were finally rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts, cleanly converted into points by Gopperth.
Fresh legs from the Sharks bench in the form of Peter Stringer and Mark Jennings saw the home side appear to score a try, but an effort from the scrum half was controversially disallowed by the TMO.
Instead the Sharks were taken back for the penalty and Cipriani’s fourth kick gave his side back the advantage with less than five minutes left on the clock.
And he fittingly had the last word in a man-of-the-match performance by sinking a drop-goal.
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