Exiles enjoy Reebok raid
Sale condemned to defeat in one-off Bolton clash
Last Updated: 20/04/11 6:00pm
Armitage: Bonus-point try
Sale's showcase match at the Reebok Stadium ended in disappointment as London Irish kept themselves in the play-off hunt with a 34-20 victory.
The Exiles quality shone through as tries from Topsy Ojo, David Paice, Dan Bowden and Steffon Armitage secured a bonus point.
Sale showed plenty of fight and scored two tries through Sean Cox and Wame Lewaravu, but the Sharks could not produce the result the 16,000 plus crown wanted.
Irish fly-half Tom Homer racked up 14 points while Charlie Hodgson kicked two penalties and two conversions for Sale, who are not yet clear of the relegation picture.
Both sides missed early penalties before the visitors took the lead when Ojo picked off a Hodgson pass to go in under the posts for a converted try.
Sale still looked threatening though as Will Addison and prop Henry Thomas made inroads into the opposition defence, and they got on the board through a Hodgson penalty.
But Irish upped the tempo - with Armitage and Ojo to the fore - and extended their lead when hooker Paice burrowed over following a series of attacks close to the Sale line.
The Sharks were made to pay the price for too many missed first tackles when Bowden powered through a weak attempt from Thomas before dummying scrum-half Will Cliff in to touch down.
Homer was on target with the conversion as the Exiles went into the half-time break with a commanding 24-3 lead.
Hodgson struck first for Sale after the break but Homer cancelled his penalty out instantly with a fine long-range effort.
The Sharks began to come forward and thought they had scored through No. 8 but the video referee controversially disallowed the effort.
The hosts finally got their first try on the board in the 63rd minute when Cox crossed the line with Hodgson converting.
Three minutes later they scored again as good hands by Thomas and hooker Neil Briggs sent Lewaravu racing away to finish.
Hodgson added the extras to give Sale hope of an unlikely comeback, but Armitage's last-gasp score sealed victory for the visitors.