Sale 21-30 Harlequins

Sale Sharks (7) 21

  • Tries: Shepherd, Vernon, Tuitupou
  • Con: Cipriani 3

Harlequins (13) 30

  • Tries: Williams, Mathews 2
  • Con: Botica 3
  • Pen: Botica 3

Nick Easter touched down for one of Harlequins' three tries as they extended their lead at the top of the Premiership with victory over Sale.

Cameron Shepherd's try gave the hosts an early lead, but Tom Williams touched down for the visitors and Ben Botica added eight points with the boot.

Botica kicked another penalty before converted scores from Easter and Charlie Matthews sealed the win.

Richie Vernon and Sam Tuitupou scored late consolation efforts for Sale.

Quins are now six points clear but the result leaves the Sharks bottom of the league, although former Australia international Shepherd got them off to the perfect start.

Just two minutes had elapsed when Quins were turned over in the contact area and good hands from Tuitupou and Mark Cueto sent the full-back away.

Danny Cipriani converted impressively but the visitors, in typical fashion, went on the attack. Botica slotted a penalty as the London club began to dominate. Ill discipline at the tackle area was proving costly and Harlequins' Kiwi stand-off quickly added a second.

Tuitupou was sin-binned for another transgression and the away side profited when Williams touched down. Karl Dickson took advantage of space left by Cueto, who was lying injured, and his surging run was finished by the winger.

The defending Premiership champions continued to control proceedings in the second half.

Another Botica penalty extended their lead and although Quins' back-row Maurie Fa'asavalu received a yellow card for punching Marc Jones, a lineout drive saw Easter touch down.

Further pressure on the home team's line then led to Matthews going over, and while Vernon and Tuitupou crossed late on as the home side rallied, it was too little too late.

VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond said: "Harlequins disrupted the game plan, they are fantastic at what they do so we've got no qualms and we were beaten by the better side.

"Harlequins are a good side and we know they've got a good away record. We thought we could match that but obviously the gulf in the two sides was shown in the first half.

"We'll lick our wounds and get on with it."

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea said: "I'm incredibly happy. We felt coming up here that it was going to be an incredibly tough match. We knew they would fight tooth and nail for everything and anything they could get their hands on.

"Credit to our guys. To come here and get a win like that is huge for us, especially with the number of players we had missing (because of the Six Nations).

"These are the games that people don't remember in May but they're massively important."

LINE-UPS

Sale: Shepherd, Amesbury, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto, Cipriani, Cliff, Harrison, Taylor, Thomas, McKenzie, Myall, Braid, Seymour, Gaskell.

Replacements: Addison for Amesbury (14), MacLeod for Cueto (33), Willis for Cliff (68), Lewis-Roberts for Harrison (50), Jones for Taylor (50), Buckley for Thomas (50), Holmes for McKenzie (73), Vernon for Myall (62).

Sin Bin: Tuitupou (29).

Harlequins: Chisholm, Williams, Hopper, Turner-Hall, Monye, Botica, Dickson, Lambert, Gray, Johnston, Matthews, Robson, Fa'asavalu, Wallace, Easter.

Replacements: Burns for Williams (78), Lowe for Hopper (55), Clegg for Botica (75), Marfo for Lambert (72), Buchanan for Gray (55), Collier for Johnston (65), Trayfoot for Wallace (65).

Not Used: Twomey.

Sin Bin: Fa'asavalu (55).

Attendance: 7,103

Referee: Martin Fox (RFU).