A Steffon Armitage try in the 80th minute handed London Irish a bonus point as they beat Sale 34-20 at Reebok Stadium.
A Steffon Armitage try in the final minute handed London Irish a bonus point as they beat Sale 34-20 at Reebok Stadium on Saturday.
London Irish turned Sale Sharks' Reebok dream into a nightmare as they eased to a comfortable victory.
In front of a record 16,428 home crowd for Sale, tries from Topsy Ojo, David Paice, Dan Bowden and Armitage guided Irish to within play-off contention.
Sharks hit back in the second period thanks to scores from locks Sean Cox and Wame Lewaravu, and 10 points from the boot of Hodgson, but it wasn't enough to overcome a powerful away side.
Hodgson and Irish winger Homer missed two kickable early penalties before the Reading-based outfit opened the scoring when winger Ojo intercepted a Hodgson pass to touch down, Homer converting.
Sale fought back and Hodgson reduced the deficit with a penalty. But Irish continued to hammer at the Sharks' line and the pressure eventually told when hooker Paice powered over, Homer once again adding the extras. And Sale's Reebok experience was turning into a nightmare as fly-half Bowden shrugged off the attentions of prop Henry Thomas to go in unopposed for a converted try.
24-3 at half-time was reduced two minutes into the second period when Hodgson kicked a penalty.
However, Homer responded with one of his own. Sale then suddenly became inspired and scored two tries in as many minutes. F
irstly, Cox burrowed over from close range before good hands sent Lewaravu down the left touchline. Hodgson converted both and the hosts were suddenly within losing bonus-point territory. But a final minute converted Armitage try off a driving maul saw Irish put pay to that.
Tries: Cox, Lewaravu
Cons: Hodgson 2
Pens: Hodgson 2
For London Irish:
Tries: Ojo, Paice, Bowden, S. Armitage
Cons: Homer 4
Pens: Homer 2
Sale Sharks: 15 Nick Macleod, 14 Paul Williams, 13 Chris Bell, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11Will Addison, 10 Charlie Hodgson (capt), 9Will Cliff, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Wame Lewaravu, 4 Sean Cox, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Lee Imiolek, 18 Andrew Sheridan, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Neil McMillan, 21 Dwayne Peel, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Kyle Tonetti.
London Irish: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Elvis Seveali'i, 12 Seilala Mapusua (captain), 11 Tom Homer, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 George Stowers 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Bob Casey, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 David Paice, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 James Buckland, 17 Clarke Dermody, 18 Faan Rautenbach, 19 Gary Johnson, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Jonathan Joseph, 22 Chris Malone, 23 Darren Allinson
Venue: Reebok Stadium
Referee: JP Doyle