London Irish suffered a disappointing 38-10 defeat away at Sale sharks this afternoon after trailing by only two points at the break.
The hosts crossed for six tries in total on a wet and windy afternoon in the North-West, including a brace for winger Nev Edwards. Shane Geraghty kicked five points to add to a penalty try all of which came in the first half.
Irish made a bright start, taking the lead after only three minutes of play. Geraghty kicked the penalty after Conor Gilsenan turned the ball over at the breakdown to put his side in a promising attacking position. Sale were penalised for being offside to give Geraghty his opportunity.
Sale replied almost immediately with a try to South African tighthead prop, Brian Mujati. Mike Haley ran the ball back, weaving his way past four Irish defenders. The Sharks kept their composure as the weather swept across the AJ Bell Stadium and Mujati snuck his way over to score in the corner to make it 5-3.
Powerful Samoan back rower, TJ Ioane, extended his side's lead with a bustling run from a few metres out. Danny Cipriani was successful with the conversion to make it 12-3.
Irish were resolute and fought their way back into the match. Danny Cipriani fumbled the ball on his own try line to gift Irish a scrum five metres out. After two dominant sets, referee Greg Garner had no choice but to award the penalty try. Geraghty kicked the conversion to make it 12-10 at the break.
Sale scored three tires inside the third quarter to take the game away from the Exiles. Sam James was the first to dot down after great work from Cipriani allowed the outside centre the space to finish.
Edwards followed with a brace to put the result beyond doubt. James turned the provider after scything through the Irish defence, his pass found the winger and he finished well.
Quick hands down the short side allowed Edwards the chance to stretch his legs down the touchline to dot down for his second.
Sam Tuitupou scored the Shark's sixth try with just over 10 minutes remaining to complete a clinical second half display and make the final score 38-10.
The Exiles will have to pick themselves up and prepare for the visit of Worcester Warriors to the Madejski Stadium next Sunday.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 3-0, 3-5, 3-12, 10-12, 10-19, 10-26, 10-31, 10-38
Scorers: London Irish: Penalties: Geraghty (3); Tries: Penalty Try (37); Conversions: Geraghty; Sale Sharks: Tries: Mujati (5), Ioane (20), James (43), Edwards (56, 61), Tuitupou (69); Conversions: Cipriani (3), Ford
15. Mike Haley (rep: Tom Arscott, 52), 14. Will Addison, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Tuitupou, 11. Nev Edwards, 10. Danny Cipriani (rep: Joe ford, 68), 9. Peter Stringer (rep: Chris Cusiter, 60), 1. Eifion Lewis-Roberts (rep: Ross Harrison, 51), 2. Tommy Taylor (rep: Neil Briggs, 67), 3. Brian Mujati (rep: Vadim Cobilas, 51), 4. Bryn Evans, 5. Andrei Ostrikov (rep: Jonathan Mills, 60), 6. TJ Ioane, 7. David Seymour (Captain), 8. Josh Beaumont (rep: Cameron Nield, 67)
Replacements: 16. Neil Briggs, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Vadim Cobilas, 19. Jonathan Mills, 20. Cameron Neild, 21. Chris Cusiter, 22. Joe Ford, 23. Tom Arscott.
15. Sean Maitland; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Ciaran Hearn (rep: Andrew Fenby, 5-10); 12. Johnny Williams (rep: Andrew Fenby, 48); 11. Aseli Tikoirotuma; 10. Shane Geraghty (rep: Theo Brophy Clews, 63); 9. Brendan McKibbin (rep: Scott Steele, 60); 1. Tom Court (rep; Johnny Harris, 62); 2. David Paice (rep: Gerard Ellis, 75); 3. Halani Aulika (rep: Leo Halavatau, 60); 4. Matt Symons (Captain); 5. Will Lloyd; 6. Ofisa Treviranus (rep: Rob McCusker, 21); 7. Conor Gilsenan (rep: Jebb Sinclair, 40); 8. Luke Narraway
Replacements: 16. Gerard Ellis; 17. Johnny Harris; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. Jebb Sinclair; 20. Rob McCusker; 21. Scott Steele; 22. Theo Brophy Clews; 23. Andrew Fenby
Referee: Greg Garner
Attendance: 6, 661