|Harlequins (21) 24|
|Tries: Marchant 2, Dombrandt Cons: Smith 3 Pen: Smith|
|Sale (0) 12|
|Tries: Langdon, R du Preez Con: R du Preez|
Harlequins beat Sale 24-12 to leapfrog the Sharks and move up to third in the Premiership table.
After early Sale pressure, two quick converted tries from Joe Marchant handed the hosts control of the game.
Alex Dombrandt added a third before Sale flanker Jean-Luc du Preez was sin-binned at the end of the first half.
The Sharks rallied in the second period as Curtis Langdon crashed over and Rob du Preez crossed, but could not stop Quins recording a fourth straight win.
All of those triumphs have come since the departure of head of rugby Paul Gustard last month, as the south-west London club registered back-to-back Premiership wins at The Stoop for the first time this season.
First-half blitz sets platform for Quins win
Sale spent most of a physical first 25 minutes camped in the Quins half, but two counter-attacking moves in the space of four minutes gave the home side the advantage.
Will Evans won possession on both occasions, first with a steal at the breakdown and then gathering an over-thrown Sale line-out, with the moves finished by Marchant on his 100th appearance for Quins.
A line break from Dombrandt and a pass from Mike Brown sent the centre scampering to the corner to open the scoring, and Marchant’s second was the simplest of finishes when the bounce of the ball from Aaron Morris’ kick forward beat covering Sharks wing Marland Yarde.
Marcus Smith, the Premiership’s top points-scorer this season, converted both efforts and then provided a third score for Dombrandt after a smart dummy broke the Sale lines.
Forward Jean-Luc du Preez was then shown yellow for a dangerous clear-out on the Quins number eight.
Sale, with South Africa lock Lood de Jager back from injury as a half-time replacement, put in a committed performance after the break and continued to test the Harlequins defence.
Langdon was held up over the line and moments later the hooker did pile over from close range.
Raffi Quirke was also denied a score by strong tackling by Morris and Brown, but Rob du Preez crossed from the resulting five-metre scrum.
Sale lost momentum after the fly-half missed the resulting conversion and Luke Northmore was denied a try in stoppage time because of a forward pass which would have secured a bonus point for Quins.
Harlequins attack and backs coach Nick Evans:
“Defensively it was a really good performance.
“We showed intent and aggression, especially when defending our 22.
“It was another good performance from Marcus Smith. The ceiling is so high with him.
“He didn’t influence the game as much as he’d have liked in the second half, but it’s all learning and this was another step in the right direction.”
Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson:
“For 70 minutes we dominated territory but they’re the best in the league on the transition at the moment.
“From an attacking point of view we have to take our opportunities.
“We left a couple of tries out there and if we’d been a bit sharper we could have stopped a couple of theirs.
“All credit to Quins, they took their tries well and they’re playing with a bit of fizz about them. They’re on a bit of a roll.”
Harlequins: Brown; Lynagh, Marchant, Esterhuizen, Morris; Smith, Care; Marler, Baldwin, Kerrod, Symons, Lewies, White, Evans, Dombrandt.
Replacements: Elia, Els, Louw, Young, Chisholm, Landajo, Herron, Northmore.
Sale: Hammersley; Solomona, S James, L James, Yarde; R du Preez, Cliff; Morozov, Ashman, Oosthuizen, Postlethwaite, Beaumont, JL du Preez, Ross, D du Preez.
Replacements: Langdon, Rood, John, de Jager, Wiese, Neild, Quirke, Doherty.
Sin-bin: JL du Preez (39).
Referee: Ian Tempest (RFU).