Sale sink Harlequins but lose England forward Tom Curry to injury

Sale overcame an early injury to Tom Curry to sweep aside Gallagher Premiership title rivals Harlequins 24-16 at a rain-soaked Twickenham Stoop.

Curry gave new England head coach Steve Borthwick a scare ahead of the upcoming Six Nations when he limped off in the 16th minute after his right leg was trapped awkwardly during a tackle by Wilco Louw.

His attempts to play on were unsuccessful, but impressive Sale regrouped following the departure of their explosive flanker to take Quins apart with a display of methodical precision that cements second place.

Harlequins v Sale Sharks – Gallagher Premiership – Twickenham Stoop
Sale Sharks centre Manu Tuilagi is tackled during the 24-16 Gallagher Premiership win over Harlequins (Andrew Matthews/PA Images).

In a first-half dominated by kicking as heavy rain lashed down in south west London, the Sharks crossed through Tom O’Flaherty and Rob du Preez to build a solid 14-6 interval lead.

Joe Marchant crossed to raise Quins’ hopes but it was a false dawn as Sale responded with forward tries by Akker van der Merwe and Cobus Wiese.

Nick David struck late on but Harlequins were effectively shut down by their canny opponents as they slumped to a third successive Premiership defeat.

Soon after Curry had trudged off, Sale engineered their first try when Luke James injected pace as the backs were launched off a line-out and having used his footwork to create space O’Flaherty was provided with a simple finish.

Manu Tuilagi was the next to pierce the home defence but just as it appeared Quins had survived, Ben James won a turnover that Sam James used to grubber ahead for Du Preez to score.

Tommy Allan’s two penalties kept Harlequins in touch but just as they were looking to finish a one-sided first half with a flourish, their Italian fly-half failed to find touch with a penalty.

Harlequins v Sale Sharks – Gallagher Premiership – Twickenham Stoop
Sale Sharks’ Akker van der Merwe forces his way over the line from a driving maul against Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop (Andrew Matthews/PA Images).

Cadan Murley then kicked the ball out on the full and as the interval neared the aspiring England wing appeared to be in growing discomfort, clutching his chest and coughing.

Quins were in need of inspiration to haul themselves back into contention and it came through Joe Marchant, who pounced when Luke James failed to deal with an Allan crossfield kick and easily won the race to the line.

It proved to be only a fleeting moment of defiance, however, as Sale responded by building pressure on the home 22 and in the 54th minute they were over for their third try when a line-out drive was finished by Van der Merwe.

Allan came off worst in a collision from Tuilagi and was carried off on a stretcher after receiving treatment for several minutes.

Sale quickly resumed battering at the door and once more their pack outmuscled the hosts with Wiese claiming the final drive to secure the bonus point.

Another try looked to be coming but Quins broke from their half through Danny Care and several phases later David ran a slick line to carry him over, but the conversion was missed and the Sharks ran down the clock.