Sale Sharks staged a late comeback to beat Harlequins 27-19 in the re-arranged Premiership Rugby Cup final, lifting their first silverware since 2006.
A try and penalty late on from South African brothers Dan du Preez and Robert du Preez put Sale ahead, with back row Faf de Klerk sealing the winner to deny Harlequins in the final stages of a competition which took more than a year to finish due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The club hasn’t won anything in 10 plus years so this is massive, it’s a big cup for us,” man of the match Rob du Preez said.
Both teams fielded strong sides for the final, staged behind closed doors at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Sale, who last lifted a trophy when they won the Premiership 14 years ago, started well in a competitive first half.
Curtis Langdon got over the line well and Robert du Preez kicked the hosts 10-0 to the good.
Harlequins last won the Premiership in 2012 with Chris Robshaw in the side, he had a final chance on Monday to again lift silverware with the club he has served for 15 seasons.
His teammate in James Chisholm showed fantastic strength to duck in and score a fine try, with Marcus Smith adding to an earlier penalty with the conversion.
Smith impressed with his kicking variety against Sale when the teams clashed in their return to Premiership Rugby back in August, and the fly-half’s unerring boot was again a thorn in their side.
Smith’s 11 first-half points put his side 16-10 up at the break, but it was not until the 68th minute that Sale fought their way back into the game with Dan du Preez’s try.
His brother’s conversion and a subsequent penalty put Sale ahead for the first time with five minutes remaining, before scrum-half Faf de Klerk took the game away from Quins with a clever dart to the line.
The victory is the club’s fourth trophy in their history with a league win in 2006 and two European Rugby Challenge cups.