Premiership: Exeter Chiefs 33-17 Sale Sharks
|Exeter Chiefs (10) 33|
|Tries: Waldrom, Chudley 2, Short, Johnson Con: Steenson Pens: Steenson, Hooley|
|Sale Sharks (10) 17|
|Tries: Addison, Beaumont Cons: Cipriani 2 Pen: Cipriani|
|Relive Boxing Day's Premiership action|
Exeter Chiefs climbed above Saracens to the top of the Premiership table with a bonus-point win over Sale.
Thomas Waldrom and Will Chudley went over for Exeter in the first half, Danny Cipriani replying with a Sale penalty and Will Addison going over.
Josh Beaumont's try gave Sale an early second-half lead, but Chudley responded with his second score within a minute.
Exeter sealed victory with tries from James Short and Tom Johnson before a late Will Hooley penalty.
A fierce wind blowing down the length of the field affected both sides, but it was Exeter who coped with it better as they secured top spot in the Premiership for at least 24 hours.
Unbeaten Saracens will return to the summit with victory at Wasps on Sunday.
After Cipriani's early penalty, Waldrom was forced over by his forwards, with the score confirmed by the television match official.
Chudley darted in for Exeter's second, but Sale hit back through Addison as they took advantage of an injury to Chiefs centre Sam Hill.
Exeter thought they had got a third try just before half-time, but Short was adjudged to have been held up by the Sale defence as he tried to touch down in the left corner.
Beaumont broke away early in the second half to put Sale 17-10 ahead, but immediately Chudley hit back as Sale's defence bought his dummy to Jack Nowell and the scrum-half went in through the gap.
Short did get across the line after an excellent tackle from Michele Campagnaro, before Johnson forced his way over late on and last-minute replacement Hooley kicked his first penalty for the Chiefs at the death.
Exeter forwards coach Rob Hunter on Sandy Park being labelled a "fortress":
"That label is very nice for our supporters because when they come here, we want to ensure that they see their side play well and win.
"We have a good record here because of what we do on the pitch.
"We have a bit to work on after this game especially as we travel to Northampton on New Year's Day - and they lost today, so they will be keen to put on a show for their supporters."
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond:
"We were in it for 60 minutes but then a bit inexperience and lack of composure let us down.
"We were probably worthy of a bonus point but those conditions we played in were hard.
"We are just missing a little bit of skills at the highest level. Overall, I'm reasonably pleased but we just lost that arm-wrestle."
Exeter: Dollman; Nowell, Whitten, Hill, Short; Steenson, Chudley; Moon, Yeandle, Francis, Lees, Parling, Armand, Salvi, Waldrom.
Replacements: Taione, Rimmer, Low, Atkins, Johnson, Lewis, Hooley, Campagnaro.
Sale: Haley; Arscott, James, Tuitupou, Addison; Cipriani, Stringer; Harrison, Taylor, V. Cobilas, Mills, Evans, Braid, Ioane, Beaumont.
Replacements: Neild, Lewis-Roberts, Mujati, Ostrikov, Easter, Cusiter, Ford, Jennings.
Referee: Dean Richards
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