Cipriani kicks Sale to victory
Sale Sharks recorded their first Aviva Premiership win at the Stoop since May 2008 as Danny Cipriani kicked his team to a 16-12 victory at Harlequins.
The England hopeful knocked over 11 points while captain Dan Braid's late try proved the turning point in the game
Nick Evans contributed 12 points from the boot in a faultless kicking display for Quins, but the former New Zealand fly-half's efforts was not enough for the Londoners.
Harlequins, buoyed by their first league win at Kingsholm since 1999, made one change to the starting line-up which defeated Gloucester 22-15 last Friday with Tom Casson replacing George Lowe at inside centre.
Danny Care, who was released back to Quins from England during the week, was named among the replacements.
Sale boss Steve Diamond selected an unchanged squad for the trip to the Stoop after his side's impressive 36-8 victory over London Irish last weekend.
The visitors have had minimal disruption to their playing squad during the autumn internationals with the exception of powerful centre Johnny Leota, who is on duty with Samoa for Saturday's Test against England.
Cipriani gave the Sharks an early lead when he fired over a penalty in the second minute after scrum-half Will Cliff made a searing break through the Quins defence.
Evans levelled matters up soon after when a powerful scrum from the home side forced a penalty.
The Quins front row of Mark Lambert, Dave Ward and promising young tighthead Kyle Sinckler were enjoying a dominant night in the scrum and squeezed another penalty out of the Sharks pack in the 16th minute. Evans made no mistake from the tee to give his side a 6-3 lead.
The first half was a tight affair with some bone-shuddering hits going in from both sides. Quins lock George Robson's hit on opposite number Michael Paterson drew gasps from the 13,051-strong crowd.
Cipriani levelled the scores once more after a great spell of pressure from Sale, with Sam Tuitupou, Tom Arscott and Jonathan Mills making strong carries into the Quins defence.
The Sharks pack recovered from their earlier scrum troubles and were awarded a penalty by referee Tom Foley just before half-time. Cipriani's long-range effort fell short, however, as both sides headed to the sheds with the scores locked at 6-6.
Care entered the fray to a huge reception in the 51st minute after a turbulent week in which the Quins scrum-half was left out of England coach Stuart Lancaster's matchday 23 for the clash with the Samoans at Twickenham.
Evans pushed Quins out to 9-6 when the Sharks pack were penalised for pulling down a rampant maul from the home forwards.
The ding-dong battle continued though, as Luke Wallace was pinged for holding on and Cipriani duly stepped up to square matters again.
Another powerful rolling maul afforded Evans the chance to give Quins the lead yet again and the Kiwi's three-pointer nudged his side into a 12-9 advantage.
However, Sale made the breakthrough in the 69th minute when skipper Braid powered over from close range after replacement Andy Forsyth's break sparked the visitors into life. Cipriani tagged on the extras to put the Sharks 16-12 ahead.
Quins then threw everything at Sale in the final 10 minutes but Diamond's troops held out for a hard-fought win.