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Irish started the game at an impressive pace. Topsy Ojo came within a metre of scoring for the visitors but was denied by good last ditch Sale defence.
Ian Humphreys had an outstanding first half. His positional play and kicking out of hand was superb as he worked to put Irish in the right areas of the park.
Sale certainly didn’t look like a side at the bottom of the league. Nick Macleod kicked an early penalty before things got better for the hosts.
They scored two good tries in the first half thanks to good initial work by Wales international, Andy Powell. Nick Macleod scored the first after he was fed a wide pass by Cipriani and Jonny Leota powered his way over for the second try.
Ian Humphreys kicked Irish’s only points of the first half to make it 15 3 to Sale at the break.
The second half was a much more even affair. Ian Humphreys kicked two penalties to make it a six point ball game at one point but were denied victory and a losing bonus point thanks to two Danny Cipriani penalties in the final five minutes.
Irish face Sale Sharks at Madejski Stadium next Sunday in the first round of the LV=Cup.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 0-3, 0-8, 3-8, 3-15, 6-15, 9-15, 9-18, 9-21
Scorers: Sale Sharks: Penalties: Macleod (8), Cipriani (75, 77); Tries: Macleod (16), Leota (33): Conversion: Cipriani; London Irish: Penalties: Humphreys (25, 48, 63)
Sale Sharks team
15. Nick Macleod (rep: Rob Miller, 40); 14. Tom Brady; 13. Johnny Leota (rep: Will Addison, 67); 12. Sam Tuitupou; 11. Mark Cueto; 10. Danny Cipriani; 9. Cillian Willis (rep: Dwayne Peel, 74); 1. Ross Harrison (rep: Efion Lewis- Roberts, 70); 2. Tommy Taylor; 3. Tony
Buckley ( rep: Vadim Cobilas, 70); 4. Fraser McKenzie (rep: James Gaskell, 74); 5. Kearnan Myall; 6. Richie Vernon; 7. David Seymour (Captain); 8. Andy Powell (rep: Mark Easter, 64)
Replacements: 16. Joe Ward; 17. Efion Lewis-Roberts; 18. Vadim Cobilas; 19. James Gaskell; 20. Mark Easter; 21. Dwayne Peel; 22. Rob Miller; 23. Will Addison
London Irish team
15. Anthony Watson; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Guy Armitage; 12. Sailosi Tagicakibau; 11. Marland Yarde (rep: Shane Geraghty, 70); 10. Ian Humphreys; 9. Darren Allinson; 1. Max Lahiff; 2. Scott Lawson; 3. Halani Aulika (rep: Leo Halavatau, 49); 4. Bryn Evans; 5. Matt Garvey; 6. Declan Danaher (Captain)( rep: George Skivington, 49); 7. Jamie Gibson; 8. Chris Hala’ufia (rep: Ofisa Treviranus, 49)
Replacements: 16. Brian Blaney; 17. Cai Griffiths; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. George Skivington; 20. Ofisa Treviranus; 21. Steven Shingler; 22. Shane Geraghty; 23. Jack Moates
Referee: Sean Davey
Attendance: 5, 723