Mark Cueto’s record-breaking Aviva Premiership try helped Sale Sharks to their third victory of the season as the league’s bottom club downed Exeter Chiefs 21-16.
Trailing 16-5 just after half-time, Cueto forced his way over for his 76th Premiership try to move one ahead of ex-Shark Steve Hanley and become the competition’s all-time record try scorer.
It also galvanised the Sharks who moved ahead when Rob Miller converted Cueto’s try and added a penalty before Danny Cipriani notched a penalty, with the help of the post.
Replacement Nick Macleod dropped a 76th-minute goal and while the Sharks rode their luck, and Exeter had a try disallowed for a forward pass, they held out for the win which means they are now just a point behind London Irish.
The game started at a frantic pace, with both sides chasing down kicks with real endeavour in front of a partisan Salford City stadium crowd.
The Chiefs nearly broke the deadlock in the ninth minute by switching play to the left wing, but Jack Nowell knocked on the final pass.
But they got the first points on the board in the 15th minute, with Gareth Steenson converting a penalty, awarded after a high Cipriani tackle.
Sale responded in the 17th minute with Dan Braid’s try, after the flanker peeled away from the scrum to dive over, but Cipriani missed the extras.
Exeter hit back five minutes later, with Steenson slotting a penalty from 40 metres out to the left, edging the Chiefs back in front.
The Chiefs were inches away from scoring their first try in the 24th minute, but the Sale defence held firm to deny several attacking mauls.
Exeter increased their lead in the 34th minute when Watisoni Votu dived over the whitewash for a try on his Premiership debut after several probing rucks, with Steenson adding the extras.
Ciprani had the final say of the first half, but his kick from the halfway line was just short, and Exeter went in ahead at the break.
Exeter put themselves in command with another Steenson penalty a few minutes after the break to increase their lead to 11 points.
Minutes later Cipriani attempted to respond with the boot, but his effort from on the halfway line fell just short and wide.
But the Sharks reduced the deficit in the 53rd minute, when Cueto finished off a sharp break to for his record, with Miller converting.
Sale got to within a point in the 58th minute with a long range kick from Miller and Exeter were reduced to ten men in the 64th minute when substitute Kai Horstmann was shown the yellow card, and Cipriani put Sale in front with the penalty.
The Sharks were piling pressure on the Exeter backline, and Cueto was nearly the beneficiary of a Cipriani cross-field kick which went into touch.
Sale continued to dominate possession, and they were rewarded in the 76th minute with a calmly-slotted Macleod drop goal.
Kearnan Myall was sin-binned with two minutes remaining but Sale held on to claim their third consecutive victory after Nowell was denied again with referee Greg Garner adjudging James Scaysbrook’s flicked pass to be forward.