Premiership: London Irish 9-13 Sale Sharks
|London Irish (3) 9|
|Pens: Bell 3|
|Sale (10) 13|
|Try: Strauss Con: de Klerk Pens: de Klerk 2|
Josh Strauss scored the only try of the game as Sale kept their play-off challenge on course with a ground-out victory over London Irish in Reading.
Strauss crossed in the first half as he picked up from the base of a scrum and charged his way underneath the posts.
Faf de Klerk converted the try and added two penalties as Sale earned their seventh win of the season.
Irish replied with three penalties from replacement fly-half Tommy Bell but could not find a winning try.
The Exiles claimed a losing bonus point but slipped 12 points from safety after Worcester's surprise victory at Exeter.
Sale came close to a second try as Josh Charnley was twice denied by the TMO, first for a knock-on and then for a shoulder in touch.
The TMO ruled out another potential score for the visitors as a charged-down kick was touched down, only for a knock-on to be spotted.
London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy told BBC Radio Berkshire:
"It's disappointing as there were some brilliant bits of play from us, I thought our defence was outstanding.
"We were under the pump for the majority of the first half and they kept throwing things at us.
"Those sort of games are about fine margins. We had momentum towards the end there and it was two breakdowns where we weren't quick enough to move them off it.
"It's tenacity in those areas that wins you games and if we secure it there, we score, we win the game. But, it's a very different outlook now.
"We have to keep going and we have to win games. Losing bonus points just aren't going to do it for us now."
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond:
"The last three or four Premiership games, London Irish have only been beaten by about five points, so we knew it would be no different today. We're delighted to get the win.
"Credit to Irish, they defended like dogs and we got over the line two or three times, but we couldn't finish it off.
"We were out of sync in our attack today, other occasions we would've put three or four tries on the board, so we've got to work on that.
"But our young English back line went out there today and performed really well, so I'm really delighted with the strength in depth that was out there today."
London Irish: Marshall; Cokanasiga, Fowlie, McLean, Lewington; Brophy Clews, Van Zyl; Franks, Paice, Hoskins, Van der Merwe (capt), Paulo, Botha, Northcote-Green, Treviranus.
Replacements: Fainga'a, Elrington, Du Plessis, De Chaves, Cowan, Steele, Bell, Tikoirotuma.
Sale: Haley; Odogwu, Addison, L James, Charnley; S James, De Klerk; Harrison, Webber, John, Evans, Beaumont, Ross (capt), B Curry, Strauss.
Replacements: Jones, Flynn, Aulika, Nott, Ioane, Nield, Cliff, Jennings.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys