Saturday, 22nd November 2014 @ 22:30
In a scrappy affair where the lead was never above three points it became clear that a try, for either side, would prove critical.
With the score at 12-9 in Harlequins’ favour, Andy Forsyth made a break into Quins territory and after the Sale forwards worked the phases, captain, and man of the match, Braid bundled over.
The shining light for Harlequins will be the losing bonus point, but the Londoners who missed five international players, have slipped to seventh place.
Harlequins entered the field of play to pyrotechnic displays and flames on a chilly Friday evening in Twickenham; the smoke had barely cleared before Will Cliff carved a hole through the Harlequins line and into the 22. The scrambling Harlequins defence conceded a penalty and Danny Cipriani opened the scores.
From the following restart, Kyle Sinckler was critical in securing Harlequins’ opening points. His first impact was in defence, forcing a Harlequins scrum and from that set piece he won a penalty, which Nick Evans converted.
After a Cipriani penalty attempt went wide on nine minutes, Evans took Harlequins into the lead following another scrum penalty inside the Sale 22.
From here, Sale built some momentum in the Harlequins half. Although the hosts rode the pressure well, Charlie Matthews held on in the tackle and Cipriani drew the score level.
Dave Ward and Matthews inspired a shift of momentum for Harlequins, carving through the Sale defence. Despite working an expansive offloading game, when the ball was shipped to the wing, Charlie Walker was bundled into touch.
Cipriani had the opportunity to extend the lead with another long range attempt, but like the first it went wide and the scores were level 6-6 at half time.
After nearly half an hour of play without points, three penalties occurred in four minutes.
Harlequins’ defence held firm in the early stages of the second half and when Sale pulled down a Harlequins maul, Evans extend the lead by three.
Cipriani was able to level the scores immediately from the restart when Harlequins held on to possession and just three minutes passed before Evans put Harlequins into the lead again.
As the match entered the final ten minutes, Forsyth darted into the Harlequins half. Sale then worked multiple phases close to the line and Braid crossed the white wash. Cipriani added the extras, giving Sale a four point lead.
It took until the 79th minute for Harlequins to win their first penalty in open play and after kicking to touch, the attack broke down with a knock-on after some impressive defence from Sale.
Harlequins attempted to launch one final attack, but Sale turned over possession and kicked the ball out of play to secure their first Premiership win in eight attempts against Harlequins.