Evans helps Quins leapfrog Sharks
Evans helps Quins leapfrog SharksSHARE
Nick Evans contributed 10 points as Harlequins claimed a bonus-point 12-27 victory over Sale Sharks to leapfrog their opponents and climb to fifth spot in the Premiership.
Quins had not won on the road in the competition since the start of December and went behind by Danny Cipriani produced a well-worked try for Tom Brady.
However, a solo score from Evans sparked Quins into life and Danny Care crossed the whitewash before the break to send the visitors in 15-5 up.
Sam Smith grabbed a third Quins try five minutes after half-time with Maurie Fa'asavalu poaching a fourth score with seven minutes to go to snare a bonus point that could prove crucial in the race for the final play-off spot.
Sale Sharks took the lead after just seven minutes after Cipriani created a fine try for Brady.
The home-side launched a ruthless attack off the back of a lineout before Cipriani master-minded a well-timed give-and-go which set Tom Arscott free and resulted in Brady crossing in the corner, though the flyhalf failed to convert.
Quins were being penalised for their errors but with 25 minutes gone they found their rhythm and flyhalf Evans sliced through Sale's defensive ranks and finished off a brilliant solo-try – which brought the visitors level.
Evans converted to put Quins ahead and then slotted a penalty to put the Londoners in complete control of the contest and they extended the advantage after 24 minutes.
England scrumhalf Care took a quick line-out and the visitors charged 50 yards up the field before being stopped five yards out.
After a couple of phases, the ball was quickly worked out wide where the instigator of the move, Care, crossed the line for Quins' second try.
At the start of the second half, Quins penned Sale back in their 22 and after a sustained period of possession winger Smith broke a tackle and went over for the score, giving them a 5-20 lead.
Another flash of brilliance by Cipriani nearly resulted in a Sale response as the Sharks flyhalf's dinked a ball over the on-rushing Quins defence which was caught by the Sam Tuitupou who broke clear before he was hauled back by the scrambling defence.
Sale gained confidence from the venture and a brilliant Dwayne Peel break gave Sharks field position to get over the line. Brady thought he had scored his second try of the evening but it was disallowed after replays showed the ball had been knocked on.
Quins were still searching for the priceless fourth try and it came from an unlikely source when England captain Chris Robshaw broke the shackles of the Sharks defence and after an untidy scramble, Fa'asavalu touched down.
In the dying embers of the game Charlie Mathews was shown a yellow card and while Sale made their man advantage count with a penalty try it was too little, too late.
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Brady, Penalty
Tries: Evans, Care, Smith, Fa'asavalu
Cons: Evans 2
Yellow card: Charlie Matthews (Harlequins, 76)
Sale Sharks: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid (captain), 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Rob Miller.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 13 Tim Molenaar, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Luke Wallace, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Tom Guest, 20 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ross Chisholm.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Robin Goodliffe
TMO: Geoffrey Warren