Premiership: Sale 37-31 Harlequins - Sharks boost play-off hopes while denting Quins' chances

Arron Reed of Sale in action
Arron Reed scored twice on his 100th Sharks appearance [Getty Images]

Gallagher Premiership

Sale: (22) 37

Tries: Curry, Dugdale, Reed 2, Quirke Pens: Ford 2 Cons: Ford 3

Harlequins: (10) 31

Tries: Lynagh 2, Murley, Beard, Northmore Cons: Smith 2, Evans

Sale kept their hopes of a Premiership play-off return alive with victory over Harlequins in a pulsating game.

Ben Curry and Sam Dugdale tries gave Sharks a perfect start, though Louis Lynagh's double reduced the deficit.

Sale's Arron Reed also scored twice and Raffi Quirke crossed after Cadan Murley and Oscar Beard hit back.

Quins secured a losing bonus point through Luke Northmore but were replaced in the top four by Bristol, who hammered lowly Newcastle.

It was a third defeat in four Premiership games for the visitors who now lie a point behind Bristol, with Sale a further two points behind, with just three games to play, after back-to-back wins.

The hosts were ahead inside three minutes at Salford when Curry powered over after a close-range drive from a lineout and just four minutes later Dugdale collected a pass from Jean-Luc du Preez out wide to go over.

After converting one of them, George Ford added a penalty on 16 minutes but Quins reduced the deficit eight minutes later when some quick hands led to Lynagh diving over out wide.

The visitors continued to press and Lynagh doubled his tally on 35 minutes when Tyrone Green jinked some room and found the winger to step inside and plunge over, though Marcus Smith missed both conversions.

Sale finished the half on top and Reed scored on his 100th Sharks appearance on the stroke of half-time as quick-thinking Curry flipped a long pass back inside for Reed to barge over, with Ford notching the extras from the whitewash.

Shortly after the turnaround Ford slotted a penalty from in front of the posts to extend the Sale lead to 15 points at 25-10 but Murley raced down the left after a slick break to close the gap with his 50th try for the club.

Sale lock Ben Bamber was sin-binned seconds after coming off the bench and Beard made the most of the numerical advantage with a bonus-point try near the posts.

Smith's second conversion made it a one-point game at 25-24 just before the hour but straight from the restart Smith's clearance was charged down by Tom O'Flaherty and Quirke won the race to touch down and secure the Sharks a bonus point too.

Before Sale were back to 15 men, Rob du Preez whipped a glorious pass out left for Reed to dart inside and score his second, though Northmore secured Quins a losing bonus point when he burst through to collect Murley's pass in the dying seconds.

Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson told BBC Radio Manchester:

"Things are looking better. There is still a long way to go but I'm happy and grateful that we're in a position where our destiny is in our hands.

"We're not just winning, we're winning well, with bonus points - playing some of the rugby we've been trying to play the last three years and some of our best rugby is coming out now which is convenient, given the stakes.

"There are still areas we need to improve upon if we are to challenge."

Harlequins head coach Danny Wilson:

"I've been saying all season that this race for the Premiership play-offs will come down to bonus points, there's no doubt about that, you've got to get your bonus points.

"Coming away from home, getting two points is important, we're a side that is capable in doing that with the tries we can score.

"But the frustration today is more about what we conceded, we scored 31 points away from home and lost, which is disappointing. But there are positives we can take in the two losing bonus points."

Sale: Carpenter; Roebuck, R du Preez, Tuilagi, Reed; Ford, Warr; Rodd, Cowan-Dickie, Harper, Wiese, Beaumont, Curry, Dugdale, JL du Preez.

Replacements: Taylor, McIntyre, John, Bamber, Andrews, Quirke, James, O'Flaherty.

Sin-bin: Bamber (55)

Harlequins: Green; Lynagh, Beard, Esterhuizen, Murley; Smith, Porter; Marler, Riley, Lewis, Herbst, Lewies, Cunningham-South, W Evans, Dombrandt.

Replacements: Walker, Baxter, Kerrod, Hammond, Lawday, Care, J Evans, Northmore.

Referee: Tom Foley