The evergreen Mark Cueto inspired Sale Sharks to an impressive opening day win in the Aviva Premiership as they withstood a Gloucester Rugby fight back at Kingsholm.
The winger, the record try scorer in the history of the league, took his career total to 79 with the only try of the first half before his clever kick set up Andy Forsyth for Sale’s second after the break.
Henry Trinder went over for Gloucester after that and Freddie Burns rediscovered his kicking boots but it was not enough as the Cherry & Whites lost in round one of the Aviva Premiership for the fourth season in a row but at least gained a losing bonus point.
Sale had not won on their travels in the league since February but an impressive forward effort laid the platform for this impressive win in the West Country.
A James Gaskell charge down created the first scoring chance of the game for Sale and when Gloucester conceded the penalty Nick MacLeod made no mistake, bisecting the posts for a 3-0 lead.
The visitors were certainly the brighter of the two sides in the opening exchanges and in the 12th minute they deservedly had the first try of the match.
From a scrum Dwayne Peel broke two tackles on a looping run to the rightto create the overlap and Cueto dummied Charlie Sharples to dive over, MacLeod missed with the conversion however and the visitors were only 8-0 to the good.
Fly-half Burns, the top points scorer in the Aviva Premiership last year, then got Gloucester up and running with his first penalty of the new campaign on 19 minutes.
And moments later he could have had his second after a good turnover from Rupert Harden, who collared Peel after a quick lineout, but this time Burns’ long-range effort drifted wide.
And just after the half hour mark Burns continued to misfire, this time from bang in front and Tom Arscott made him pay.
The former London Welsh full-back lined up a penalty from near halfway after the dominant Sale pack had won a penalty at scrum time and his monster effort sailed over with room to spare.
And that was not the end of the scoring for the first half after another scrum went the way of the visitors, Gloucester prop Nick Wood being sent to the sin bin after conceding another penalty.
This one was from even further out but Arscott repeated his trick, slotting between the uprights from the halfway line for a 14-3 lead at the break.
After the break MacLeod continued to take on the closer range kicks for Sale but he was off target immediately after an impressive driving maul from the Sharks forwards had won another penalty.
But that miss did not look like it would prove to costly after Forsyth went over for their second try in the 51st minute.
A clever grubber kick from Cueto released the outside centre and although the Kingsholm faithful were convinced he was offside the TMO remained unmoved.
MacLeod could not add the conversion but the Sharks were 19-3 up with less than half an hour to go.
It got worst for Gloucester after that as England international Billy Twelvetrees was the second player for the home side sent to the sin bin, this time for a tip tackle.
But despite the numerical disadvantage it was Gloucester who summoned a response, Trinder cutting a wonderful line to collect Tavis Knoyle’s offload and race over, Burns’ conversion reducing the deficit to 19-10.
Two more penalties from Burns made it 19-16 as Nigel Davies side were roared on by the home support.
Joe Ford, on a replacement for MacLeod, restored a six-point lead for Sale with ten minutes to go as he slotted a drop-goal in a rare foray into the Gloucester half.
Ford then ate up more of the clock with a long-range penalty that never threatened the posts but Gloucester kept coming.
But for all their pressure in the Shark’s 22, replacement Ross Harrison sent to the sin bin for the visitors, in the final stages the visitors held firm for a richly-deserved and hard-earned victory.