Sale (3) 20
Tries: Cox, Lewaravu Cons: C Hodgson 2 Pens: C Hodgson 2
London Irish (24) 34
Tries: Ojo, Paice, Bowden, S Armitage Cons: Homer 4 Pens: Homer 2
London Irish hooker David Paice celebrates his third try in as many games
London Irish kept up their bid for a top-four place with a hard-fought win against Sale at the Reebok Stadium.
Irish took the lead when Topsy Ojo intercepted Charlie Hodgson's pass.
Hooker David Paice scored his third try in as many games and a marvellous solo effort by Daniel Bowden put the Exiles firmly in control at the break.
Irish went to sleep in the second half, allowing Sean Cox and Wame Lewaravu to score but Steffon Armitage scored late on to secure the bonus point.
Sale's highly anticipated showdown at the Reebok Stadium attracted a record home attendance of 16,428.
But the Sharks, who are not yet clear of the relegation picture, did little to tempt the new faces in the crowd to come to Edgeley Park.
Sale had the first opportunity to open the scoring but Hodgson missed the target from long range.
The visitors got on the mark when winger Ojo intercepted a Hodgson pass to go in under the posts for a converted try.
Sale looked dangerous and picked up three points through a Hodgson penalty.
But the Exiles started to lift the tempo and hooker Paice burrowed over after a series of attacks close to the line, with Homer converting.
The Sharks were missing tackles galore and Bowden scythed through prop Henry Thomas' weak attempt before dummying scrum-half Will Cliff for an excellent individual try.
Homer scored the conversion to make it 24-3 at half-time.
Hodgson and Homer traded kicks, the latter with a splendid long-range effort.
Sharks thought they had a try when Sisa Koyamaibole touched down but the television match official controversially ruled it out.
However they did get their try when Cox went over with Hodgson converting. And Lewaravu finished well after good hands by front rowers Thomas and hooker Neil Briggs to give them real hope, with Hodgson added the extras.
But Armitage's last-gasp score confirmed the visitors' victory.
Sale: Macleod; Williams, Bell, Tuilagi, Addison; Hodgson (capt), Cliff; Lewis-Roberts, Briggs, Thomas; Lewaravu, Cox; Gaskell, Fearns, Koyamaibole.
Replacements: M Jones, Imiolek, McIntyre, C Jones, McMillan, Leck, Miller, Tonetti.
London Irish: Armitage; Ojo, Seveali'i, Mapusua (capt), Homer; Bowden, Hodgson; Corbisiero, Paice, Ion; Kennedy, Casey; Gibson, Armitage, Stowers.
Replacements: Buckland, Dermody, Rautenbach, Johnson, Thorpe, Joseph, Malone, Allinson.
Referee: J P Doyle