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Quins abandons undefeated start as Sale’s Quirke leads Friday night thriller

Friday night’s thriller saw the hosts take control early on at AJ Bell Stadium. Young star Raffi Quirke hit the ground before Danny Care and Tyrone Green brought Quins back into the match.

Sale led 17-14 at the break thanks to Jono Ross’ try after coming out of the trash.

The lead didn’t last long as Luke Northmore scored from the kick-off in the second half before Kieran Wilkinson and Marcus Smith traded penalties.

Quins seemed to be in control, but the hosts finished stronger and took a well-deserved victory as Tom Curtis took a penalty and Quirke touched down.

Last season’s semi-finalists came into this game after successive losses to Exeter and Gloucester, but they started best at Eccles.

Supported by the return of British and Irish Lions flanker Tom Curry, they looked much more consistent with the ball in hand, but errors at critical stages interrupted their momentum.

The roster was also causing problems, with the Londoners doing exceptionally well to disrupt the Sharks’ ball. However, the hosts would eventually get their payoff when Wilkinson’s forward-looking pass cleared Cobus Wiese, who then found Quirke to finish.

Quins hadn’t had any possession in the opening 15 minutes but, when they finally did, Tabai Matson’s men showed just how dangerous they are. After moving the game inside the 22 opponents, they were awarded a penalty and Care, always in the know, was there to hit quickly and touch the ground.

Wilkinson regained Sale’s lead from the start, but discipline again became a problem for Alex Sanderson’s charges and Ross received his second yellow card of the campaign for a high tackle on Green.

With the man advantage, the visitors started to pressurize the home side’s defense and they almost found their way to the line when Andre Esterhuizen leapt forward.

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