Faf de Klerk inspired Sale to a shock 18-15 win over Northampton, while Gloucester, Bath, Worcester, Wasps and Exeter were all victorious in round nine of the English Premiership.
Just when Sale looked set to enter the relegation zone after a string of defeats, they dug themselves out of that hole with a crucial result against the Saints.
De Klerk kicked Sale into an early lead with a penalty, but two tries – including one from his opposite number and compatriot Cobus Reinach – gave Northampton a 12-3 lead. Klerk wasn’t done just yet, though, as he scuttled away for a self-converted try on the stroke of half-time to reduce the Saints’ advantage to two points.
The hosts regained the lead with a try and a penalty in the second half, while keeping Northampton’s scoring down to a single kick at goal as they held on for a much-needed win.
Meanwhile, Nizaam Carr scored the match-winning try in the 67th minute as Wasps edged London Irish 17-13. Ashley Johnson also scored for the winners earlier on, but it was their teammate Willie le Roux who had a huge impact on the game, thanks to a couple of telling linebreaks from the back.
In other results, Ruan Ackermann delivered an industrious performance as Gloucester beat the Newcastle Falcons 29-7, Bath clinched a resounding 38-14 win against Harlequins, the Worcester Warriors’ resurgence continued with a stunning 31-27 upset victory over the Leicester Tigers, and the Exeter Chiefs fired late to defeat hosts Saracens 20-18.
Round 9 results:
Sale Sharks 18 Northampton Saints 15
London Irish 13 Wasps 17
Newcastle Falcons 7 Gloucester 29
Bath 38 Harlequins 14
Leicester Tigers 27 Worcester Warriors 31
Saracens 18 Exeter Chiefs 20