Premiership: Sale Sharks 23-17 Exeter Chiefs
|Sale Sharks (17) 23|
|Tries: Leota, Edwards, Haley Con: Cipriani Pens: Cipriani 2|
|Exeter Chiefs (0) 17|
|Tries: Yeandle, Lewis Cons: Steenson 2 Pen: Steenson|
Sale Sharks recorded their sixth win in a row to beat Premiership high-flyers Exeter Chiefs at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Johnny Leota, Nev Edwards and Mike Haley all ran in tries during a stunning opening 40 minutes for the hosts, who led 17-0 at half-time.
Converted scores from Jack Yeandle and Dave Lewis after the break threatened an unlikely Chiefs comeback.
But Danny Cipriani landed two penalties to secure victory and preserve Sale's unbeaten home record in 2015-16.
Steve Diamond's Sharks, who are already into April's European Challenge Cup quarter-finals, have now moved up into the Premiership's top six thanks to their recent good form in both competitions.
But Exeter, who won eight of their opening nine league matches, have lost back-to-back Premiership games for the first time in more than 12 months.
After an even opening 15 minutes which saw both sides have players yellow-carded - Ross Harrison for Sale and James Short for Exeter - Leota, Edwards and Haley all crossed in the space of 23 minutes to put the home side in complete control.
Their lead would have been greater had Cipriani not failed from the tee four times during the half, but his penalty with nine minutes to go allowed the hosts to see the game out.
Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond:
"I thought it was an equal contest, even though the scoreline didn't suggest it was.
"In the second half, they had 80% possession and we defended well.
"Exeter are a top-four side on merit, so we were delighted to get the win. But we've got to understand that we should have been 25 points up at half-time, so we've got to work on converting all the opportunities.
"We're a reasonable team, we know we're good at home and it will be a daunting task to go to Worcester next week."
Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter:
"We're disappointed to lose but at the same time you've got to give a lot of credit to Sale, who stood strong in front of a lot of concerted attacks and have worked extremely hard not to break.
"We worked extremely hard and I can't fault the lads for the energy they put out on the pitch because we've carried the ball for miles.
"Ultimately, we've come up a little bit short by being a little bit too error-strewn in the early part of the game, when we did have concerted pressure.
"Not scoring anything in that first half has cost us. We had to work extremely hard for our moments and ultimately that's why we've come up a little bit short."
Sale Sharks: Haley; Addison, James, Leota, Edwards; Cipriani, Stringer; Harrison, Taylor, Cobilas, Evans, Ostrikov, Neild, Seymour (capt), Easter.
Replacements: Briggs, Lewis-Roberts, Mujati, Mills, Lund, Cusiter, Ford, Arscott
Exeter Chiefs: Dollman; Woodburn, Whitten, S Hill, Short; Steenson, Chudley; Moon, Yeandle (capt), Low, J Hill, Parling, Armand, Salvi, Waldrom
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Hepburn, Williams, Atkins, Horstmann, Lewis, Hooley, Bodilly
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