Tim Visser touches down as Harlequins' fine form continues against Sale
Tim Visser's second-half try helped Harlequins to a third Premiership win in four games as they edged past a dogged Sale Sharks side 16-14 at the Twickenham Stoop in an enthralling Friday night encounter.
Sale are a formidable prospect at the AJ Bell Stadium but generally struggle on their travels and despite a battling performance, their streak of winning just one away league game since last November continued.
They dominated up front in the first half but failed to translate that to the scoreboard - captain Dan Braid's try following Danny Cipriani's up-and-under their only score in a 7-3 half-time lead.
And Quins looked a different side after the break as Visser's well-taken score, combined with the boot of Evans, helped them into the lead despite Sam James' try.
The Sharks did put considerable late pressure on their hosts but when Cipriani's late drop-goal attempt flew wide, Quins had done just enough for the win
With returning England captain Chris Robshaw lining up at blindside flanker for Harlequins - a position perhaps more suited to his skillset than his traditional number seven role - the game began scrappily.
And it was Sale that took the lead in the 18th minute as Cipriani put up a menacing high ball that Visser spilt - Sharks captain Braid pouncing on the winger's error to bundle himself over from five metres out.
Cipriani made no mistake with the extras and Harlequins continued to make errors, giving the Sale fly-half the chance to extend his team's lead from a penalty just inside Quins' half but he slipped on contact and his effort came up short.
It took the hosts 37 minutes to get into Sale's 22, when Nick Evans's touch-finder was misjudged by Nev Edwards and Peter Stringer, both making their first starts for the visitors.
From the resulting catch-and-drive, the home side were rewarded with a penalty, which Evans stroked over to make the score 7-3, although the New Zealander missed the chance to reduce the deficit on the stroke of half-time as another penalty attempt flew just wide.
Quins came out firing after the break and they reduced the arrears to one point when Evans made no mistake with a straightforward penalty.
And the hosts took the lead for the first time five minutes later. After a number of phases, Evans saw Visser in acres of space out wide, and the winger spectacularly gathered his fly-half's cross-field kick to dot down in the corner.
Evans nailed the conversion before extending their advantage in the 54th minute - capitalising on another scrum penalty to put his team nine points ahead.
However the away side bounced back 11 minutes later after an extended spell of pressure, when James muscled his way over the line from a clever Cipriani switch.
Cipriani's conversion put his team just two points behind but the England fly-half missed a penalty eight minutes from the end before his drop goal attempt flew wide of the left post in time added on as Quins survived.