Exeter Chiefs were beaten in the Premiership for the second week in succession as a trio of first-half tries helped Sale Sharks to a 23-17 victory at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday.
The second-placed Chiefs lost out in a tight top-of-the-table clash with Saracens last time out and found themselves 17-0 down at the interval at Sale.
Sale were briefly reduced to 14 men on six minutes when Ross Harrison received a yellow card, but the hosts capitalised when Exeter's James Short was also sent to the sin bin for a tackle in the air seven minutes later.
Johnny Leota duly went over for the game's first points and Sale stretched their advantage further prior to the break through tries from Neville Edwards and Mike Haley - the latter's score converted by Danny Cipriani.
Exeter responded strongly after the interval, Jack Yeandle and Dave Lewis touching down either side of a Cipriani penalty to set up a nervy finish.
However, a second three-pointer from Cipriani gave Sale, who are now unbeaten in six in all competitions, some breathing space and the Chiefs could only manage a penalty of their own from Gareth Steenson in the closing stages.
James Hook contributed a third-minute try on his way to an 18-point haul as Gloucester eased past out-of-form Harlequins 28-6 at Kingsholm.
The two sides drew 39-all at Twickenham earlier in the season, but this latest meeting proved one-sided as Ben Morgan and Steve McColl also crossed.
Northampton Saints closed to within two points of fourth-placed Harlequins, thrashing London Irish 35-7, while Bath edged out Worcester Warriors 16-14 - their first win since the reverse fixture in December.