Sione Kalamafoni’s second-half try double secured Gloucester Rugby their third Aviva Premiership Rugby victory of the season as Sale Sharks’ travel woes continued at Kingsholm.
Nev Edwards crossed twice for the Sharks but on a windy night in the West Country Steve Diamond’s side slipped to their eighth successive league defeat on the road.
Rob Cook crossed with only three minutes on the clock for the Cherry & Whites but Edwards soon replied with a magnificent score.
His second soon after half-time – Twelvetrees and Cipriani both slotted a couple of penalties in between – put the visitors in front and with Richard Hibbard in the bin the Sharks looked dominant.
But it was Kalamafoni who then took over, the Tongan crossing twice either side of the hour mark to put the hosts back in front and they held on to claim a vital win.
The Cherry & Whites came into the game on the back of consecutive league defeats and were without a try in 180 minutes. But it took them only three to make the breakthrough at Kingsholm.
Edwards made a mess of the kick-off allowing Charlie Sharples to break down the right and while the Sharks’ initial defence held firm, the pressure eventually told and Cook was the beneficiary – taking a good James Hook pass to dot down in the left corner.
Twelvetrees could not add the extras and it did not take long for the Sharks to strike back – winger Will Addison gaining territory from the initial break before schoolmates Cipriani and Edwards took over.
From a lineout move in the 11th minute the Whitgift duo combined to sublime effect – Cipriani’s sumptuous dink off the outside of his left hitting Edwards perfectly in stride and there was no stopping the speedster as he cantered in at the left corner for his first Aviva Premiership Rugby try.
Cipriani also missed the conversion on a blustery night at Kingsholm and with the first quarter of an hour gone it was 5-5.
The visitors were now settled and a high tackle from Twelvetrees soon after earned a penalty that Cipriani this time slotted to put them in front.
Twelvetrees replied with one of his own in the 25th minute and after the half-hour mark smashed another over from the halfway line to put the hosts back in front.
Before the break the Sharks turned down a kickable penalty to go to the corner but the Cherry & Whites defence stood tall this time and at the interval they led 11-8.
An immediate penalty after the break from Cipriani levelled proceedings and when Hibbard then brought a lineout down illegally to earn himself a yellow card the Sharks were very much on top.
And they got their second try of the evening moments later as Mike Haley made the initial break into the 22 before feeding Edwards to speed clear.
Cipriani again missed the tough conversion but with a 16-11 lead Steve Diamond would have been satisfied.
However the Sharks – still with a man advantage – then once more turned down a kickable penalty that would have stretched the lead out to eight points and when Gloucester rebuffed their lineout they made the Sharks pay.
John Afoa’s fine lineout throw in the absence of Hibbard started the momentum, Jonny May made the half-break down the right and when the ball came left Kalamafoni was too strong – holding off two would-be tacklers to touch down in the corner.
Twelvetrees could not add the extras but the hosts, restored to their full complement, soon had a third and it was that man Kalamafoni again – the No.8 dotting down from close range on the hour mark.
Replacement Laidlaw took over the kicking duties to add the extras and make it 23-16 to the hosts.
But Sale were not going to roll over and a fine Cipriani break took them deep into Gloucester territory before the fly-half banged over a penalty from in front to make it a four-point game.
However in the final moments Gloucester withheld some Sharks pressure to secure victory while Sale drive back north with the consolation of a losing bonus point.