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Daniel Larrechea proved a more-than-able deputy for the injured Charlie Hodgson as he inspired Sale Sharks to a 17-12 victory against Harlequins.
The French fly-half scored 12 points in all, with the home side racing into a 14-3 lead at the break.
Harlequins struck back in the second half, however, with the boot of Adrian Jarvis bringing the London side two within two points of parity.
But opposite number Larrechea struck the telling blow, his third penalty of the match sealing victory for the reigning champions and bringing a positive end to a miserable few days.
Sale lost successive Guinness Premiership matches against Bristol and Newcastle - the latter defeat at home prompting an apology from director of rugby Phillipe Saint-Andre.
Then England number 10 Hodgson and prop Andrew Sheridan were ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering injuries during last Saturday's Test win against South Africa.
And to make matters worse, Scotland captain Jason White followed his club team mates into a lengthy rehabilitation.
Indeed, Sale's start to the match indicated more of the same for the Edgeley Park faithful, with an early Larrachea penalty miss followed by a successful kick from Jarvis.
But Larrachea gradually began to exert his influence on proceedings, some deft handling of the ball being backed up with a drop goal from the 'Quins 22 after 15 minutes that levelled the match.
A successful penalty then saw Larrachea edge Sale ahead, with the hosts scoring their first try in four matches after 22 minutes.
Poor handling in midfield was exploited by flanker Magnus Lund, the sometime England international combining well with centre Lee Thomas to exploit a gap in the Harlequins defence.
Although Larrachea failed to convert, another successful penalty conversion contributed to Sale's comfortable half-time lead.
Looking for their fourth win in a row, Harlequins mounted an impressive second half response, with Jarvis's first penalty pulling Harlequins back to within five points after 55 minutes.
And local hearts were certainly in mouths when a 45-metre Jarvis effort found its target with nine minutes remaining to secure the bonus point.
But it was left to Larrachea to ease the fears of Sharks fans, his fourth goal of the evening settling matters in favour of the home side and getting their title defence back on track.
|Friday 20th December|
|20:00||Sale Sharks vs London Irish|
|Saturday 21st December|
|15:00||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Bath vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Wasps vs Northampton|
|15:00||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th December|
|TBC||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th December|
|15:00||Northampton vs Bath|
|15:00||Worcester vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||Leicester vs Sale Sharks|
|Friday 3rd January|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Sale Sharks|
|Saturday 4th January|
|15:00||London Irish vs Worcester|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Saracens|
|15:00||Leicester vs Bath|
|Sunday 5th January|
|15:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Friday 7th February|
|19:45||Worcester vs Leicester|
|20:00||Sale Sharks vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 8th February|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Wasps|
|15:00||Bath vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|Sunday 9th February|
|15:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
|Friday 14th February|
|20:00||Sale Sharks vs Saracens|
|Saturday 15th February|
|15:00||Wasps vs London Irish|
|15:00||Northampton vs Worcester|
|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 1st December|
|Newcastle 9 - 35 Harlequins|
|Saturday 30th November|
|Bath 21 - 16 Exeter|
|Worcester 10 - 33 Northampton|
|London Irish 12 - 19 Wasps|
|Saracens 24 - 19 Sale Sharks|
|Friday 29th November|
|Gloucester 17 - 22 Leicester|
|Sunday 24th November|
|Wasps 5 - 28 Bath|
|Saturday 23rd November|
|Northampton 18 - 0 Newcastle|
|Harlequins 27 - 19 Gloucester|
|Exeter 9 - 16 Saracens|
|Leicester 20 - 11 London Irish|
|Friday 22nd November|
|Sale Sharks 26 - 10 Worcester|
|Sunday 3rd November|
|Saracens 40 - 3 Newcastle|
|London Irish 14 - 19 Northampton|
|Saturday 2nd November|
|Leicester 16 - 23 Harlequins|
|Gloucester 30 - 32 Wasps|
|Friday 1st November|
|Sale Sharks 16 - 18 Exeter|
|Worcester 6 - 21 Bath|
|Sunday 27th October|
|Newcastle 13 - 11 London Irish|
|Wasps 22 - 12 Leicester|
|Saturday 26th October|
|Northampton 41 - 20 Saracens|
|Exeter 40 - 6 Worcester|
|Harlequins 24 - 3 Sale Sharks|
|Friday 25th October|
|Bath 15 - 13 Gloucester|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Stuart Barnes with skysports.com