SALE Sharks recorded probably their most crucial win in the professional era with a gutsy, professional show at the Kassam stadium.

Sale Sharks visit to the Kassam was their third, and on the previous two occasions they have won a trophy.

In 2002 and 2005 Sharks lifted the European Challenge Cup with wins over Pontypridd and Pau respectively.

The only playing survivor of both previous visits was Mark Cueto.

Sharks arrived at the Kassam having won their previous three games whereas London Welsh had only won one of their previous nine outings.

The early exchanges were even before Cipriani put Sharks ahead on eight minutes with a penalty.

Welsh scrum half Alex Davies and Gavin Henson then shared kicking duties with Davies kicking two more and Henson landing a monster penalty from wide out on the half way line as Welsh started to build a lead to 12-3.

Sharks then turned things around in the last five minutes of the first half. On 36 minutes Cipriani slotted a penalty in off the post 12-6 and then Sharks scored a great try.

Amesbury and Cipriani combined well with some great interchange passing before sending Will Cliff in for his first try of the season. Cipriani converted to give Sharks a slender but crucial half time lead.

Half Time London Welsh 12 Sale Sharks 13'

Dan Braid increased Sharks lead on 41 minutes with his second try for the club which Cipriani converted (12-20).

Welsh were far from finished though and McKenzie with a try, and a Henson conversion followed by a penalty put the Exiles back in front at 22-20.

Henson increased the lead on 58 minutes and Sharks were in danger of losing the game.

A Cipriani penalty on the hour cut the lead to 25-23 and when Macleod (a substitute for Cipriani) kicked a penalty on 71 minutes Sharks were back in front 25-26.

Welsh never say die attitude saw them try to get their noses back in front. It wasn't to be and Sharks closed the gap on Irish to one point and three behind London Welsh.

hharks play at Salford City Stadium against Harlequins on Friday, February 22.

Final Score London Welsh 25 Sale Sharks 26.