Premiership: Sale Sharks 34-28 Newcastle Falcons
|Sale Sharks (24) 34|
|Tries: Cusiter, Cueto, Tuitupou, Seymour, Ioane Cons: Cipriani 3 Pen: Cipriani|
|Newcastle Falcons (11) 28|
|Tries: Powell, Mayhew, Socino Cons: Socino 2 Pens: Clegg 3|
Mark Cueto scored his 90th Premiership try in his final home appearance before retiring as Sale defeated Newcastle.
Sharks led 24-11 at the break through tries from Chris Cusiter, Cueto and Sam Tuitupou with Danny Cipriani converting all three and sending over a penalty.
Newcastle responded through Adam Powell with Rory Clegg kicking two penalties.
David Seymour earned the bonus point while Richard Mayhew's try gave Falcons hope but TJ Ioane responded for Sale before Juan Pablo Socino's late effort.
Scoring a try in Sale's victory gave ex-England winger Cueto, 35, the perfect farewell as he played in front of a home crowd for the last time after 15 years at Sale.
The 35-year-old is expected to make his final career appearance at Exeter next weekend, and the Sharks will go to Sandy Park still in with a chance of sixth position and Champions Cup qualification after Wasps lost at home to Leicester.
Sale, who lost hooker Tommy Taylor to the sin bin after a tip-tackle in the first couple of minutes, had a 13-point advantage at the break, with Scotland scrum-half Cusiter finishing off a brilliant burst from Josh Beaumont for the first try of the game.
Newcastle responded through Powell but Clegg missed the conversion, before Cueto's score after good work from Tom Arscott and Tom Brady.
Cipriani kicked his second conversion and a further penalty and although Newcastle reduced the deficit with two penalties of their own, Tuitupou crashed over from close range before the interval to take the score to 24-11.
Clegg sent over his third penalty of the match after half-time but Sale soon had their bonus point, with flanker Seymour crossing for 29-14.
Mayhew's try reduced the deficit, with Socino adding the conversion, before Ioane scored Sale's fifth. Socino then converted his own try to ensure 11th-placed Newcastle left with at least a losing bonus point.
Sale wing Mark Cueto:
"It's only natural to have the odd doubt, particularly over the last few weeks when I've been asked the question so many times.
"Regardless of whether you're committed to the decision you've made, the fact that you get asked the question so many times, you do start to doubt yourself a little bit.
"There have been a few sleepless nights but, in terms of whether it's the right decision, 100% it's the correct one. I'm now looking forward to staying involved with the club next year and trying to contribute off the field in a commercial capacity."
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards:
"We have a habit of giving teams head-starts.
"We're giving too many easy tries away and it comes back to haunt us. We can score tries for fun, should have scored two or three more as our finishing wasn't as good as it could have been.
"As a consequence, we lost the game. It was very stop-start. There was no fluidity to the game and their tries were very easy.
"The odd thing is that you play so badly and yet you can win because we've got a great shape in our game. We're in that position to win and, probably because the boys aren't used to winning, they couldn't go out there and do it."
Sale: Arscott, Brady, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto, Cipriani, Cusiter, Lewis-Roberts, Taylor, V. Cobilas, Mills, Hines, Braid, Seymour, Beaumont.
Replacements: Ford for Cipriani (64), Cliff for Cusiter (45), Harrison for Lewis-Roberts (49), Jones for Taylor (49), Parker for V. Cobilas (64), Paterson for Mills (54), Ioane for Braid (45).
Sin Bin: Taylor (1).
Newcastle: Hammersley, A. Tait, Powell, Socino, Sinoti, Clegg, Tipuna, Vickers, Lawson, Brookes, Green, Thompson, M. Wilson, Welch, Hogg.
Replacements: A. Tuilagi for A. Tait (54), A. Tuilagi for Clegg (54), Blair for Tipuna (59), G. McGuigan for Lawson (54), Orlandi for Brookes (63), Witty for Thompson (71), Mayhew for Hogg (59).