Dan Mugford was the hero for Sale Sharks as he kicked 14 points on his home Aviva Premiership Rugby debut to seal a 19-10 victory over Harlequins.
It was Sale’s first win of the Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign and continues their formidable record at the AJ Bell Stadium, while John Kingston fell to his first league defeat at the Quins helm.
Mugford had missed a match-winning penalty in a loss to Newcastle Falcons last Friday, but there was no erring from the tee this time around as he knocked over four penalties and converted David Seymour’s try.
Former England captain Chris Robshaw did score a first Harlequins try in over two years, with Nick Evans kicking the conversion and a penalty, but Kingston’s men struggled to get out of second gear in a fragmented game.
A heavy collision early-on between Kyle Sinckler and Joe Marler saw TJ Ioane leave the field early on, but Mugford snaffled the first points for Sale when Mike Phillip’s high kick was fumbled and young lock Sam Twomey was penalised at the breakdown.
Debutant Paolo Odogwu impressed the home crowd early on, twice skipping through tackles to get Sale good territory, but twice it came to nothing.
They did not have to wait long for their next points though, the pressure from a rolling maul telling on 14 minutes, allowing Mugford to make it two kicks from two.
Indiscipline at the breakdown continued to hurt Quins, and Mugford took full advantage from the tee as Sale opened up a nine-point lead in the 21st minute.
Harlequins responded well though, and after a series of penalties deep in Sale territory – all of which they kicked to touch – Robshaw barged over from close-range, with Evans picking up where he left off last week against Bristol by knocking over the conversion.
With the visitors looking sharp, Jonathan Mills was sin-binned on 32 minutes but there was no further change to the score before half-time.
Sale brought on forward reinforcements shortly after the restart, and the changes paid off almost immediately.
Owen Evans was sin-binned when a big rolling maul was stopped illegally, and when Mugford kicked to touch from the resultant penalty, another big drive ended with Seymour going over on 51 minutes.
Mugford kicked the tricky conversion and, though Evans’ long-range penalty pulled three points back for Harlequins, the visitors were then down to 14 men when Sinckler was sinbinned.
Mugford slotted the resultant penalty over to once again open up a nine-point lead, before Mat Luamanu’s sending off cost Harlequins as they chased a way back into the match.