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Larrechea boosts Sale
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.
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|Sunday 21st December|
|14:00||Wasps vs London Irish|
|Friday 26th December|
|15:00||London Irish vs London Welsh|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:00||Bath vs Exeter|
|14:00||Sale vs Leicester|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Saracens|
|16:30||Harlequins vs Northampton|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:30||Gloucester vs Wasps|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:45||Northampton vs Newcastle Falcons|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
|16:30||Exeter vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 4th January|
|14:00||Wasps vs Sale|
|14:00||Leicester Tigers vs Bath|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Harlequins|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Saracens|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:00||Sale vs Northampton|
|15:00||Bath vs Wasps|
|15:15||Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Newcastle Falcons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Exeter|
|Saturday 14th February|
|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Irish|
|15:00||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|15:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle Falcons|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale Sharks 18 - 11 Exeter|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Newcastle Falcons 13 - 18 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 14 - 43 Northampton|
|London Irish 9 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Exeter 27 - 19 Saracens|
|Leicester Tigers 18 - 16 Wasps|
|Friday 28th November|
|Bath 25 - 6 Harlequins|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 24 - 31 Northampton|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|London Irish 23 - 33 Bath|
|Exeter 31 - 15 Wasps|
|Friday 21st November|
|Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 Gloucester|
|Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Sunday 16th November|
|Wasps 71 - 7 London Welsh|
|Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 Saracens|
|Saturday 15th November|
|Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle Falcons|
|Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London Irish|
|Friday 14th November|
|Gloucester 15 - 22 Harlequins|
|Northampton 18 - 24 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com