Brive held a valiant Sale fightback at bay, preventing the Sharks from achieving their first Amlin Challenge Cup win of 2011/12.
At one point early in the second half the Sharks were facing a 20-point deficit. But ultimately only a missed penalty from Nick Macleod denied them a losing bonus point.
Brive came out of the blocks quickly, scoring through full back Scott Spedding. But while they continued to dominate in the first half the Sharks defence proved up to the task and instead the hosts had to rely on the boot of fly half Riaan Swanepoel for the remainder of their 19 points before the break.
Macleod landed two penalties of his own, but when wing Mathias Atayi scored early in the second half Brive looked to have the game in the bag.
But after having rarely threatened in the first half, Sale scored a try of their own through Tom Brady, the wing finishing off some patient build-up. Johnny Leota also scored, but it was too little, too late for the visitors.