Nick Macleod’s late penalty ensured Sale Sharks finished their troublesome Aviva Premiership campaign with a flourish, as they beat London Wasps 21-20 at Salford City Stadium.
The Sharks took a first-half lead through tries from Tom Brady and New Zealander Dan Braid, either side of Christian Wade’s score.
The away side hit back in the second-half, as Wade’s try made him joint Aviva Premiership top scorer with fellow Wasps winger Tom Varndell, but Macleod’s third successful penalty clinched the win.
Sale broke the deadlock in the seventh minute, as Dwayne Peel found space to switch play to the left flank for Brady to finish in the corner, but Macleod’s conversion attempt hit the bar.
Wasps had the opportunity to pin the Sharks back in the 16th minute, but former Sale man Tommy Bell’s penalty attempt drifted wide.
But the visitors got off the mark when Joe Simpson broke away sharply after a tap-penalty and offloaded to flying winger Wade to dive over in the 18th minute, with Bell converting.
Sale reclaimed the lead minutes later, as flanker Braid picked up the ball from a maul that had collapsed five metres short of the line, to dive under the posts, with Macleod converting.
The Sharks almost strengthened their lead in the 35th minute, but fly-half Macleod’s long-range penalty cruelly cannoned back off the left-hand post.
The home side were looking to finish the first period with a flourish, opting to kick penalties to touch, but prop Henry Thomas was stopped just short of the line on the stroke of half-time.
Brady – who signed a new deal with Sale this week – broke away sharply at the start of the second half, but the winger was hauled down by Simpson 15 metres short.
And minutes later hooker Marc Jones knocked-on the pass from captain Dave Seymour, when Sale had numbers on the left-hand side.
The Sharks continued to put pressure on the Wasps defence, and almost increased their lead in the 52nd minute, but scrum-half Peel’s pass was fumbled by winger Will Addison.
Sale were rewarded for their endeavour minutes later, as Macleod slotted home a close-range penalty to put the Sharks eight points ahead.
But Wasps hit back from the re-start, with captain Hugo Southwell launching a counter-attack which was finished by Wade, with Bell adding the conversion.
And the visitors took the lead for the first time in the afternoon with 20 minutes remaining, as Bell converted a penalty from the left-hand side.
Wasps were reduced to 14 men in the 66th minute when substitute Lorenzo Romano was penalised for an infringement at the ruck, and Macleod slotted home the resulting penalty.
Bell converted a routine penalty with ten minutes remaining, to make amends for a missed attempt minutes earlier, before Macleod responded with his own in the 76th minute.