Premiership: Sale Sharks 23-25 Harlequins
|Sale (6) 23|
|Tries Arscott 2, Cueto Cons: Cipriani Pens: Cipriani 2|
|Harlequins (22) 25|
|Tries: Walker, Robshaw, Yarde, Care Cons: Evans Pens: Evans|
Sale's second-half revival fell short as Harlequins held on for a bonus-point Premiership win at the AJ Bell Stadium to offer hopes of a top six finish.
Quins were 22-6 up at the break, tries from wingers Charlie Walker and Marland Yarde, England captain Chris Robshaw and scrum-half Danny Care answered only by two Danny Cipriani penalties.
But Sale hit back with two second-half tries from the bench by Tom Arscott.
Mark Cueto also crossed, but Joe Ford missed with two conversion attempts.
Eighth-placed Quins' victory moves them up to within a point of seventh-placed Sale, who claim a losing bonus point. But both are outsiders in the race for the top six and European Champions Cup qualification.
|Cueto keeps the scoreboard moving|
|Former England winger Mark Cueto, who is scheduled to retire at the end of the season, has now scored a record 89 Premiership tries in his career, three ahead of fellow winger Tom Varndell.|
|Tom Arscott has now got 14 tries this season, 12 of them in the Premiership, putting him one behind behind the competitions top try scorer, Exeter Chiefs' Thomas Waldrom.|
Despite the late withdrawal of Quins captain Joe Marler with a shoulder injury that will now keep him out for the final month of the season, the visitors looked in control at half-time.
Tries came from three of their England internationals, the highlight of which was Care finding a gap down the blindside for the bonus-point try.
That lead was stretched by Nick Evans' early second-half penalty, one of only two successful kicks out of five for the Quins stand-off, but the arrival of Arscott with half an hour left helped to turn the contest.
Within three minutes he had crossed, Cipriani kicking the conversion to bring the home side back to within two scores at 25-13.
Arscott's second try, his 14th of the season, pulled it back to 25-18, but Cipriani's withdrawal was made to look crucial when Ford missed the kick.
That appeared even more so when veteran Cueto, the Premiership's all-time top try scorer, went over two minutes later - and Ford again missed, hitting the post with his attempt to tie the scores.
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond:
"We had a very poor first half. Everything we talked about in the week that Harlequins would try and do, they did.
"Fair play to them, they were away with it at half-time. The only thing we got right was that we changed the bench after 45 minutes and they made a big impact.
"Give or take a kick or two we could have stolen it but it was a fair result in the end.
"The pressure's come onto us and we've not responded to it, which is disappointing."
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea:
"I was really proud of the boys. What you can't define is the heart of people and, for the first 50 or 60 minutes, you saw a Harlequins side play some really outstanding rugby.
"We made the game something we wanted it to be. We had to play at a pace they didn't want to play at and we succeeded in that for 55 minutes
"Joe Marler is not a worry for the World Cup. He came back from the Six Nations with a shoulder injury. Will he be fit for the rest of the season? No. But will he be fine for the England training camps? Yes.
"It's a hangover from the Six Nations and needs to be looked at. He will probably need an operation but it's only a minor one. It's not going to be something that's going to have any impact but it's not something you can mess around with."
Sale: Haley; Brady, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto; Cipriani, Cusiter; Lewis, Jones, Cobilas, Beaumont, Ostrikov, Braid (capt), Lund, Ioane.
Replacements: Taylor, Harrison, Parker, Mills, Seymour, Cliff, Ford, Arscott.
Harlequins: Lindsay-Hague; Yarde, Lowe, Sloan, Walker; Evans, Care; Lambert, Ward, Shields, Easter, Robson, Wallace, Robshaw (capt), Clifford.
Replacements: Buchanan, Adneiran-Olule, Marfo, Matthews, Talei, Dickson, Botica, Monye.
Ref: Wayne Barnes (RFU).