Mark Cueto celebrated his final home match for Sale Sharks in style as he touched down for his 90th Aviva Premiership Rugby try in a thrilling win over Newcastle Falcons.
Chris Cusiter’s early score had given Sale the lead before Cueto evaded the attentions of the Falcons defence to score on his 302nd appearance for the club.
There was plenty more to come from the Sharks as Sam Tuitupou extended the lead before the break and David Seymour and TJ Ioane’s second-half scores gave Sale the points.
The early exchanges proved to be fiery and Tommy Taylor was given an early yellow with just two minutes on the clock after a tip tackle from the 23-year-old.
But the 14 men of Sale showed no signs that they would be hampered as Danny Cipriani offloaded to Josh Beaumont who found Cusiter and the Scot dotted down for the early score.
Cipriani added the extras with the boot but Newcastle came back with one of their own in the ninth minute.
Juan Socino floated it to Adam Powell who turned on the burners down the right and raced away from the Sharks defence to touch down, though Rory Clegg’s effort with the boot couldn’t find its mark.
Newcastle looked like they had found their stride but Cueto had other ideas and wasn’t going to be denied his fairytale ending.
A lovely move found the veteran free on the right and he waltzed over casually for his 90th try – Cipriani making it 14-5.
The Falcons got three back straight away with Clegg making amends for his earlier miss to add a penalty and move his side within seven.
Cipriani restored the ten-point advantage with a penalty of his own after 25 minutes before Clegg picked up another three shortly after.
But Sale were proving too strong and they pulled further ahead just before the break as Tuitupou crashed over and Cipriani’s conversion made it 24-11.
The visitors started well in the second half and produced moments of flowing rugby but couldn’t find a way through a resilient Sale.
However they did find themselves with a penalty after 48 minutes and Clegg made sure of the points from the tee.
But Sale were not going to miss the opportunity to send Cueto off with a win and they scored their fourth try of the afternoon thanks to David Seymour.
Tom Arscott did well to keep the ball alive on the right and Seymour won the tussle with Socino to collect and score – Cipriani off target with the boot.
With time ticking down Newcastle set about trying to close the 15-point deficit and found themselves with an opportunity from a lineout deep inside Sale territory.
And Richard Mayhew pulled one back as he peeled off the back of a driving maul to dart across the line with Socino’s kick closing the gap to eight.
Ioane managed to ease the pressure on the home side as he crashed over but Joe Ford’s missed conversion gave Falcons a chance.
A 78th minute try and conversion for Socino took the gap to just six but they couldn’t find a way to spoil Cueto’s party and Sale clung to the vital victory.