Leon Lloyd’s two tries in two minutes at the start of the second half left Sale no way back at Kingsholm, where Gloucester’s indefatigable pack secured their fifth straight win in the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP.
Dean Ryan’s men remain the only unbeaten team in the league, an invaluable record as players begin to return from the World Cup.
Benoit Bourrust, the young prop making his debut for Sale, was as stunned as anyone to find himself with a clear run to the line to put the Sharks in front after seven minutes.
Unable to make any headway in the line-out drive, the visitors released their tighthead and no Gloucester player picked him up before he bounced over for the try.
Charlie Hodgson had trouble getting his eye in, skewing the conversion, a drop-goal and a penalty in the first 15 minutes and these proved costly as Gloucester dug in to put Ryan Lamb within range.
The fly-half missed his first penalty, but slotted all four of his following attempts to give the home side a 12-5 lead going into the final five minutes of the first half.
By then, Gloucester’s pack had gnawed away at their rivals and it was only down to some desperate defence and a lack of clinical finishing that prevented the home side from crossing the whitewash.
The Sharks snatched a levelling try on the stroke of half-time, when Mike Tindall missed Sililo Martens cutting loose inside Gloucester’s half and
Oriol Ripol stepped inside Lloyd and then Lamb to score, with Hodgson adding his first points.
But Gloucester resumed a more precise side after the break, the pack eating up easy yards and frustrating Sale lock Sean Cox into a professional foul that earned him 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
From the penalty line-out drive, Lloyd scored the first of his brace, working a neat loop with Nick Wood, with the second coming after Anthony Allen and Tindall had drawn the defence in the middle of the park.
Restored to 15 men, Sale went on the attack, but slow ball lost them yards and Gloucester’s defence drove them back before they wasted their lengthy possession with a forward pass when they had a man over.
Olivier Azam was on the pitch three minutes before he caught Julien Laharrague and turned over ball, then Lamb’s punt was taken by replacement winger Iain Balshaw, who sent Olly Morgan on his way to the line. Lamb converted.
Balshaw would have scored himself in the final 10 minutes had Allen’s pass come a little sooner but Gloucester, with Fijian back row Akapusi Qera now on for his debut, refused to move out of Sale’s 22 in the hunt for the bonus point.
With time getting away from the visitors, Hodgson tried to unleash a break from the in-goal area to no avail and a risky quick line-out 10 metres from their line came to nothing.