Cipriani earns Diamond praise
Sale coach Steve Diamond was left singing the praises of Danny Cipriani after the former England number 10 produced a moment of magic to sink a tenacious Newcastle side 18-13 at Kingston Park.
The Falcons led 13-11 with just over 10 minutes of the Premiership clash left and an Adam Powell interception and break almost led to a Falcons try.
A penalty saw Newcastle make ground into the Sale 22 but when they lost the ball on the drive Cipriani came up with a moment of magic.
Most fly-halves would have kicked from just outside his own line - and he did - but it was a delightful chip which he collected on the bounce and he then he delivered a perfect pass to Mark Jennings for the full-back to send Johnny Leota in for a length-of the-field try which broke Newcastle hearts.
It was a moment of magic to savour and Diamond believes Cipriani's reputation as the bad boy of England rugby is a memory.
"He's really settled in with our team ethic," said Diamond. "His former life has gone."
And Diamond is confident it will not be too long before Cipriani is back on the England scene, as he added: "He can see things other players can't and if he keeps doing that he will be right on George Ford's coat-tails."
The man himself refused to take all the credit for the try though, saying: "All you can do is do your job on the field. I have a great opportunity to put my hand up in the next few games, which are very important, and, hopefully, I can do that."
It is three league wins on the bounce for Sale, something Newcastle were looking for for the first time since 2009.
Diamond said: "We knew Newcastle would be tough, but we kept the pressure on with the drive and then using our two centres and Danny showed a bit of brilliance to crack the game open."
Leota's try was a killer blow that knocked the stuffing out of Newcastle with 10 minutes left and - while they threw everything at Sale in those last 10 minutes - they had to settle for the losing bonus point.
"It was another try conceded when turned over possession," said Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards. "That's happened a lot this season.
"It's disappointing that we didn't make better use of the huge amount of possession we had in the last 20 minutes.
"We played reasonably well but it was just our final execution that let us down.
"I can't fault the boys for effort and their second try was an absolute killer. Okay, Danny played well but he also has two outstanding centres outside of him but I also think Juan Pablo Socino was outstanding for us today."