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This was a game the men in black and gold had chances to win twice over, particularly in the first quarter when they could have scored three tries, but it was a series of near misses and inaccuracies that cost the visitors.
Wasps nearly made the perfect start when Serge Betsen charged down Charlie Hodgson’s clearing kick, but the ball bounced away to safety before the Frenchman could catch up to it and touch down the first try with less than a minute of play.
However, it was the Sale fly half who struck first with a long-range penalty in the fourth minute when Wasps infringed in the scrum.
The away team tried to hit back with a positive attack across the 22, with the forwards trying to blast a way through Sale before the backs tried to pick a way through, spinning the ball left then right.
The move ended when David Lemi threw the ball straight into touch. Another opportunity went begging a minute as Lemi led the charge and Paul Sackey kept pace on his outside, but the Samoan's pass skidded across Sackey's boots and simple run-in was lost.
Two minutes later Dave Walder's kick to the corner went straight out of play and after 15 minutes his luck continued to falter, missing out on a straightforward penalty.
Despite the errors, it had actually been a pretty upbeat start from the visitors and a third clear try-scoring chance came in the 17th minute, but as Lemi skipped over in the corner, play was called back for a forward pass from Ben Jacobs.
It was another chance missed and Sale, who had hardly been out of their half, made Wasps pay with another penalty after 24 minutes.
Again Wasps were their own worst enemies though, Warren Fury sliced his kick straight into the arms of Sale's Dafydd James and Wasps were subsequently penalised for not rolling away after bringing the winger down.
Duly encouraged, Sale began for the first time in the match to start going at Wasps with conviction. With 37 minutes gone Hodgson's third kick put the side ahead but moments before Sale thought they were through under the posts when Chris Jones surged clear 20m out. Fury's desperate tackle just about held him up, and when Sale recycled, moved the ball wide and went skipping over in the corner they denied again with referee Chris White ruling out the try in favour of the penalty.
Danny Cipriani replaced Dave Walder for the second period, but it didn't change the shape of the game and it was not until he boomed the ball 50m into touch after 45 minutes that Wasps got some territory.
But a penalty for hands in the ruck gifted the initiative straight back to the hosts and within seconds they were back in their own half.
Wasps came again though and tried to assert themselves with extended forward pressure. Sale held them up, but Wasps flung the ball out to the backs and Cipriani unleashed Ben Jacobs to zip through a gap and touch down after 52 minutes.
Cipriani missed the conversion and a minute later Lemi, filling in at scrum half for the injured Fury off for blood treatment, whipped a ball out from behind a defensive scrum that went laces high to his ten.
Cipriani bent to collect, but the ball squirmed under his hands and Richard Wigglesworth skipped over him to pick up the ball and run through unopposed.
Hodgson converted to make it 16-5 and not even a Cipriani penalty straight afterwards could take the wind out of Sale.
To their credit, Wasps regained their composure for the final 15 minutes and another Cipriani break nearly led to their second try in the left corner with 11 minutes to go.
The 22-year-old was off again after 70 minutes, arcing his run before straightening up and darting between two Sale defenders and into open ground. A third caught him though and his pass out the tackle went to ground.
With time ticking down Wigglesworth converted another Sale penalty to make it 19-8.
Wasps next challenge is a trip to Franklin’s Gardens, facing Northampton Saints on Saturday 27th March KO 5.30pm. Premiership action then returns to Adams Park on Sunday 4th April with an earlier kick off of 1.30pm as Wasps face Irish. Tickets for this game are on sale now - call 0844 225 2990 or go online here. With a tough battle for a top four spot ahead we need your support – get behind your team!