|Gloucester (0) 17|
|Tries: Balmain, Twelvetrees Cons: Twelvetrees 2 Pen: Twelvetrees|
|Sale (10) 23|
|Tries: L James, Evans, Yarde Con: R du Preez Pens: R du Preez 2|
Sale Sharks bolstered their Premiership top-four bid by winning at out-of-form Gloucester in difficult conditions.
Luke James’ converted try and a penalty from Rob du Preez gave Sale a 10-0 lead at the break before Bryn Evans crossed to stretch the Sharks’ advantage.
Gloucester fought their way back into the game with tries from Fraser Balmain and Billy Twelvetrees either side of Marland Yarde’s opportunistic finish.
But another Du Preez penalty sealed it, as the hosts got a losing bonus point.
Persistent rain and wind, alongside a muddy Kingsholm surface, meant the encounter became a game of territory, with handling errors abounding and kicking proving crucial.
Both du Preez and Twelvetrees saw penalty attempts come off the frame of the goalposts in the first 35 minutes, with the Sale man hitting the upright and Twelvetrees’ long-range effort coming back off the crossbar.
The conditions produced some scrappy tries, with McGuigan hacking forward for James to race onto after the Cherry and Whites defence had failed to deal with a kick from du Preeze which deflected high into the air.
Gloucester gave away penalties consistently but worked their way back into the game once Sharks prop WillGriff John was sent to the sin-bin for an infringement at the breakdown – although Yarde gave Sale breathing space when he picked up a loose ball following a fumble from Gloucester fly-half Danny Cipriani and raced away to the line.
The hosts reduced the arrears in bizarre fashion when a Cipriani pass cannoned forward off the shoulder and head of Matt Banahan and Twelvetrees pounced at the back of the in-goal area after Luke James spilled the ball.
But Sale showed resilience as Steve Diamond’s side saw out the closing stages to move four points behind Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs, while Gloucester have now lost four consecutive league games and remain five points off the top four ahead of the rest of the round 12 fixtures.
Gloucester: Marshall; Seabrook, Twelvetrees, Atkinson, Thorley; Cipriani, Braley; Hohneck, Marais, Balmain, Slater, Mostert (capt), Ackermann, Polledri, Morgan
Replacements: Gleave, Seville, Knight, Craig, Ludlow, Chapman, Evans. Banahan
Sale: Hammersley; McGuigan, S James, L James, Yarde; R du Preez, Cliff; Oosthuizen, Webber, John, Evans, JL du Preez, Ross (capt), Curry, D du Preez
Replacements: Langdon, Morozov, Cooper-Woolley, Phillips, Postlethwaite, Warr, Curtis, Solomona.
Sin bin: John (56).
Referee: Wayne Barnes.