Sale 30-29 Harlequins: Joe Marler's red card proves crucial in Sharks win
Last Updated: 06/01/18 5:57pm
Joe Marler's sending off proved pivotal as Faf de Klerk's late penalty helped Sale Sharks secure a 30-29 victory over 14-man Harlequins at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Sale were much the better team in the opening 25 minutes, touching down twice via Byron McGuigan and Rohan Janse van Rensburg, while AJ MacGinty added seven points from the tee.
That gave the Sharks a 17-5 lead - Alofa Alofa responding for Quins - but the visitors came back into the contest late in the first period and were ahead through tries from Charlie Walker and Ross Chisholm.
Marler was then red-carded in the second half but Quins showed excellent game-management to score their fourth try via Jamie Roberts.
The game was not over, however, and Janse van Rensburg crossed the whitewash to set up an exciting finale. The Sharks then went ahead through De Klerk and they duly held on to take a valuable victory.
In the reverse Aviva Premiership fixture, the Londoners caught the Sharks cold with a fast start, going 21-0 up early on, but it was the Greater Manchester outfit that began this encounter on the front foot.
It took them just 11 minutes to score two tries, both of which were well worked. Sale's first significant foray resulted in a try for McGuigan as MacGinty, Will Addison and Sam James combined to send the Scotland international across the line.
Addison then played a significant role in the second try as the wing broke down the right and passed to Ben Curry, before the flanker off-loaded for Janse van Rensburg to touch down.
To their credit, the visitors fought back and reduced the arrears following Alofa's excellent close-range finish, after John Kingston's men had built pressure inside the opposition 22.
Although MacGinty extended the home side's buffer, Steve Diamond's team started to make errors and Quins pounced.
The back three particularly enjoyed the final 10 minutes of the half as, firstly, Walker scampered clear to touch down before another turnover allowed Alofa to break through and produce the scoring pass to Chisholm.
Marcus Smith added the extras to both efforts and then kicked a three-pointer as Quins went into the break with a 22-17 advantage.
Harlequins then began the second period as they ended the first, but the Londoners failed to benefit from their pressure.
That frustration evidently affected Marler, whose needless shoulder to the head of flanker TJ Ioane saw the loosehead correctly receive his marching orders.
Sale seemingly had the momentum but, despite MacGinty reducing the deficit from the tee, another error allowed the visitors to score their fourth try as Roberts barrelled his way across the whitewash.
However, Marler's absence soon began to take its toll and Janse van Rensburg went over to leave a two-point game going into the last 10 minutes.
Quins were under immense duress and they conceded a late penalty which De Klerk converted as the hosts snatched the win.