Will Addison’s kicked a 75th– minute penalty to overcome Newcastle Falcons 26-24 despite a Niki Goneva hat-trick at the AJ Bell Stadium as Sale claimed a first Aviva Premiership Rugby win since beating Bristol Rugby at Ashton Gate in October.
Juan Pablo Socino’s poacher’s effort took Newcastle ahead within two minutes, Joel Hodgson’s conversion giving Dean Richards’ side the perfect start.
But Will Addison’s boot edged Sharks back into the game, bringing them within a point at 7-6 before Niki Goneva sliced through for Falcons’ second inside half an hour.
Denny Solomona then went over for his fifth try in four Aviva Premiership Rugby appearances after Goneva was sent to the sin bin, with Addison successful from the tee before Byron McGuigan extended Sale’s lead at the break to 18-12 following a Solomona break.
Bryn Evans went over early in the second half before Goneva struck twice in the space of five minutes to put Falcons ahead heading into the final ten minutes.
Addison kept his cool to knock over his third penalty of the night and ensure Diamond’s side edged to victory in a tremendous back-and-forth encounter.
— Sale Sharks (@SaleSharksRugby) February 10, 2017
A Falcons penalty less than a minute in looked like it would go unpunished after Hodgson’s shot at goal bounced off the post, but Socino was on hand – racing 40 metres – to pick off the ball as it ricocheted off the cross-bar and under for an opportunists try.
Hodgson made no mistake with the conversion, but Addison knocked over a response from the tee within five minutes as he got Diamond’s men off the mark.
Sale earned another shot four minutes later as Falcons were pinged for holding on and Addison pulled Sharks within a point.
But it was Sale’s turn to let indiscipline cost them as a lineout infringement handed Falcons a chance to punt the ball deep for an attacking lineout that handed Fijian Goneva a perfect chance to make his impression on the game.
The explosive winger picked the ball up at first receiver, cutting a fine line straight through the Sharks defence and racing clear to score Falcons’ second – though Hodgson missed with the kick.
Halani Aulika had a chance to pull Sale back within a point, only to knock on over the line from close range after closer inspection from the TMO.
Well done to our good friends @SaleSharksRugby on the win tonight, and thank you for the great welcome.
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) February 10, 2017
It was only a momentary reprieve for Falcons as Solomona burned over out wide to score, with Addison converting to put Sale ahead for the first time.
Diamond’s carried the momentum they finished the first period with straight into the second, with Evans crossing after 51 minutes to take them 23-12 ahead as Addison’s conversion slipped wide.
Hodgson though, was growing into the game, some fine kicking ensuring that Sale had to play from deep, but it was Goneva who broke the game again, picking off a loose ball to race home from 60 metres out.
Fly-half Hodgson saw the kick go astray as he slipped, but Goneva nabbed yet another interception three minutes later to complete his hat-trick, Sonatane Takulua converting to move Richards’ men back in front at 24-23.
Addison, exceptional all night, still had chance to turn the game again, after a huge Sharks scrummage earned the centre a shot at goal which he tucked over to move Diamond’s side two points ahead.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 10, 2017