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Aviva Premiership: Sale Sharks beat London Irish to end seven-game losing streak
Sale claimed their first Aviva Premiership win of the season at the eighth attempt as they beat London Irish 21-9 at City of Salford Stadium.
The Sharks were deserved winners after scoring the only two tries of the night in the first half through Nick Macleod and Johnny Leota, and while they remain bottom of the table, victory moves them to within four points of the Irish and Welsh Exiles.
Former England fly-half Danny Cipriani played a key role for Sale, setting up both first-half tries, as well as adding a conversion. Irish's response before the break came through a penalty from Ian Humphreys.
Humphreys kicked two more three-pointers in the second period to reduce the deficit, but two late Cipriani penalties sealed the victory.
Despite a nervy opening, solid set-piece work allowed the Sharks to gain a foothold in the match and after they had stolen an Irish lineout, the Sharks drove impressively and forced Irish to infringe, with Macleod edging the home team ahead with eight minutes gone.
It seemed to settle them down and they added to that lead soon after when fly-half Cipriani sent the full-back over.
London Irish did reduce the arrears when Humphreys kicked three points, but it was the Sharks who continued to threaten when Leota charged through the defensive line.
Although nothing came of that, it was not long before the Samoan outside centre was crossing the try-line. Cipriani was again the creator, as the stand-off's wonderfully delayed pass sent Leota through a gap and he shrugged off two would-be tacklers before touching down.
Cipriani converted to extend the advantage to a deserved 15-3 at half-time, but with a team that was so low on confidence, it was never a comfortable lead, especially when Humphreys ate into it just after the interval with a second three-pointer.
After Humphreys had broken the gain-line, Sale conceded another penalty which the fly-half duly converted. But as Irish pressed for more, the hosts remained composed and Cipriani sealed the victory with successive penalties from the tee.
Those late kicks also denied Sale's fellow strugglers a losing bonus point which may prove crucial in the relegation battle.
Victory was the perfect way to end a tumultuous week for the former champions, after the removal of Bryan Redpath as director of rugby.
Redpath was then installed as head coach on Wednesday, with chief executive Steve Diamond putting himself in charge of first-team duties.
On this evidence it is a move that has paid dividends just in time to give Sale realistic hope of salvaging their season - and their place in the top flight.
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|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale Sharks|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle Falcons vs Leicester Tigers|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Bath vs London Irish|
|15:00||Northampton vs Saracens|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Welsh|
|Sunday 26th April|
|14:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Saturday 9th May|
|14:00||Sale vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Wasps 32 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Exeter 16 - 6 Bath|
|Saracens 22 - 17 Newcastle Falcons|
|Leicester Tigers 28 - 8 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 12 - 50 London Irish|
|Friday 27th February|
|Northampton 17 - 13 Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com