|Gloucester (0) 17|
|Tries: Balmain, Twelvetrees Cons: Twelvetrees 2 Pen: Twelvetrees|
|Sale (10) 23|
|Tries: L James, Evans, Yarde Con: R du Preez Pens: R du Preez 2|
Sale Sharks bolstered their Premiership top-four bid by winning at out-of-form Gloucester in difficult conditions.
Luke James’ converted try and a penalty from Rob du Preez gave Sale a 10-0 lead at the break before Bryn Evans crossed to stretch the Sharks’ advantage.
Gloucester fought their way back into the game with tries from Fraser Balmain and Billy Twelvetrees either side of Marland Yarde’s opportunistic finish.
But another Du Preez penalty sealed it, as the hosts got a losing bonus point.
Persistent rain and wind, alongside a muddy Kingsholm surface, meant the match became a game of territory, with handling errors abounding and kicking proving crucial.
Both Du Preez and Twelvetrees saw penalty attempts come off the frame of the goalposts in the first 35 minutes, with the Sale man hitting the upright and Twelvetrees’ long-range effort coming back off the crossbar.
The conditions produced some scrappy tries, with McGuigan hacking forward for James to race onto after the Cherry and Whites defence had failed to deal with a kick from du Preeze which deflected high into the air.
Gloucester gave away penalties consistently but worked their way back into the encounter once Sharks prop WillGriff John was sent to the sin-bin for an infringement at the breakdown – although Yarde gave Sale breathing space when he picked up a loose ball following a fumble from Gloucester fly-half Danny Cipriani and raced away to the line.
The hosts reduced the arrears in bizarre fashion when a Cipriani pass cannoned forward off the shoulder and head of Matt Banahan and Twelvetrees pounced at the back of the in-goal area after Luke James spilled the ball.
But Sale showed resilience as Steve Diamond’s side saw out the closing stages to move four points behind Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs, while Gloucester have now lost four consecutive league games and remain five points off the top four ahead of the rest of the round 12 fixtures.
Gloucester launch #BeKind campaign
Gloucester used to the match to promote their #BeKind campaign, aiming to raise awareness of mental health and well-being, alongside the Samaritans and with the full support of Premiership Rugby.
The move came after former England international Danny Cipriani paid a heartfelt tribute to ex-partner Caroline Flack following her death on 15 February.
Cipriani released an emotional video tribute to the former Love Island host, saying “it’s OK to be vulnerable” and speaking out about his own mental health issues.
Gloucester’s players had “Be Kind” printed on the back of their shirts rather than their surnames, and wore black armbands with #BeKind written on them.
The matchday squad wore t-shirts promoting the Samaritans during the warm-up, and collections were held for the charity at Kingsholm.
Five pounds from every ticket purchase for the match will also be donated to the Gloucester & District branch of Samaritans.
If you, or someone you know, have been affected by mental health issues, help and support is available at bbc.co.uk/actionline
Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:
“We knew at half-time that we had to get good territory, and hope Sale would make a few mistakes like we did in the first half.
“We knew they would use the conditions to pin us down because they had the lead. Apart from the maul try they scored, they didn’t really work hard for their points.
“We went through a period where we gave away four or five consecutive penalties which gave them territory.
“I can’t fault the players for the heart and passion they showed to keep in the fight and almost be there at the end. We must stay together and we can’t start blaming people.”
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond:
“We knew if we could just control the field position tonight and possession as much as we could, we would be all right.
“I thought we carried well, the half-backs looked after the ball well, and I am delighted. It is a difficult place to come.
“I predicted before the game it was going to be six points either way, and I was right.
“We are definitely not getting carried away. There is no altitude sickness around the place.”
Gloucester: Marshall; Seabrook, Twelvetrees, Atkinson, Thorley; Cipriani, Braley; Hohneck, Marais, Balmain, Slater, Mostert (capt), Ackermann, Polledri, Morgan
Replacements: Gleave, Seville, Knight, Craig, Ludlow, Chapman, Evans. Banahan
Sale: Hammersley; McGuigan, S James, L James, Yarde; R du Preez, Cliff; Oosthuizen, Webber, John, Evans, JL du Preez, Ross (capt), Curry, D du Preez
Replacements: Langdon, Morozov, Cooper-Woolley, Phillips, Postlethwaite, Warr, Curtis, Solomona.
Sin bin: John (56).
Referee: Wayne Barnes.