Cipriani the saviour as Sale finally secure their first victory

Sale 34 Cardiff Blues 33

Salford City Stadium

Sam Warburton was in casualty getting the dislocated middle finger of his left hand put back in place while Danny Cipriani was performing an emergency operation on his ailing new team yesterday. In the latter case, the repair work proved successful – to a giant collective sigh of relief on the west side of Manchester.

Warburton, Wales' captain fantastic and Cardiff Blues' magnificent No 7, lasted only three minutes of a Heineken Cup Pool Six contest overflowing with points and drama before suffering the collateral damage that took him off to the local infirmary.

It was not until the 50th minute that Cipriani – short of form, consistency and starts since his summer move from Melbourne Rebels – was released from the torment of the bench. At that stage, with six Premiership defeats behind them and a deficit of 27-12 on the scoreboard, it was fair to say that Sale were suffering from a bad side.

There was little sign of a healing touch when Cipriani – a replacement for Nick Macleod, preferred as a starting fly-half for a third successive match by Sale's director of rugby Bryan Redpath – hurled a loose, wildly ambitious dambuster of a pass out to the right wing to spurn his first attacking opportunity.

It was different a few minutes later as the former England wunderkind launched the Lazarus-style comeback that ultimately earned the hitherto toothless Sharks their first win of the season under their new director and their first win in their new home.

Cipriani drew the Blues defence with a beautifully delayed zipped pass out to Will Addison wide on the right and took a return feed from the centre before skipping over the whitewash for his first Sale try. Then, with 64 minutes on the clock, the 24-year-old produced a delightful offload out of the back of his hand while mid-pirouette, allowing replacement centre Johnny Leota to feed a scoring pass to young wing Mark Jennings.

Thanks to a third try, courtesy of veteran prop Tony Buckley five minutes from time, and a conversion and penalty by full-back Rob Miller, Sale were able to complete their unlikely comeback and finally get their season up and running. As for Danny boy, two years on from being squeezed out of the England picture by Martin Johnson, surely he will be back running operations for Sale from the start when they tackle Montpellier on French soil on Sunday.

"Hopefully, I've put my hand up," Cipriani said, when asked what he needed to do to tie down the No 10 shirt for club, let alone country. "Just keep playing the way I'm playing. I came off the bench against Bath and tried to make an impact. Things went all right then. Then today it went all right as well. It's just up to the coach now, obviously."

Redpath could not have failed to have been impressed. "It's great to see Danny perform like that," the former Scotland scrum-half said. "Hopefully it opens the door for some consistent performances – from everyone. It's a huge confidence boost.

"Danny's attacking flair has never been in question. For me, there are two other elements to his game – field position and control – and he had three great kicks to get the forwards in position to give him a platform to play off. He also made his tackles when he needed to. Hopefully Danny and the team can kick on from this and we can all look upward."

Certainly, Cipriani does not fancy kicking his heels on bench duty while waiting for a walk-on role. "I want to start, obviously," he said. "Every No 10 wants to start. I'm not taking anything away from Nick. He's been a long servant for the club and he's a great player.

"I've just got to keep working at it and hopefully get a start next week."

It was not clear whether Warburton was hurt in the act of putting his hand up or in getting it stuck at the bottom of a ruck during an early skirmish.

The damage was clear to see, though, on the X-ray that the Wales captain posted on Twitter, together with the message: "Suddenly dawned on me I may have fingers like Martyn Williams by the time I finish playing."

The Blues coped well enough without him after absorbing a sustained spell of early pressure from the home side.

Alex Cuthbert, their giant right wing, plundered a hat-trick of tries before the interval, and Leigh Halfpenny was in deadly form with the right boot, landing seven place kicks out of seven.

Crucially, though – reduced to 14 men for the final seven minutes when replacement scrum-half Lewis Jones was yellow-carded for some spoiling tactics – Cardiff were unable to stem the shift in momentum that left Danny feeling champion and on top of the world.

Sale: Tries Cipriani, Jennings, Buckley. Conversions Miller 2. Penalties Macleod 4 , Miller.

Cardiff: Tries Cuthbert 3. Conversions Halfpenny 3. Penalties Halfpenny 4.

Sale: R Miller; M Jennings, W Addison, S Tuitupou (J leota, 60), M Cueto; N Macleod (D Cipriani, 50), N Fowles (C Willis, 50); E Lewis-Roberts, T Taylor, T Buckley, R Gray, F McKenzie (J Gaskell, 60), R Vernon, D Seymour (capt), A Powell.

Cardiff: L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, G Evans, J Roberts, T James; C Sweeney, L Williams (L Jones, 70); T Filise, M Breeze (A Kyriacou, 51), B Bourrust (N Trevett, 50), B Davies, L Reed, J Navidi, S Warburton (R Copeland, 3), A Pretorius (capt).

Referee: J Garces (France).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform