|Sale (15) 25|
|Tries: McGuigan, Rodd, Langdon Cons: MacGinty 2 Pens: MacGinty 2|
|Exeter (15) 20|
|Tries: Cordero, Lonsdale, S Simmonds Con: J Simmonds Pen: J Simmonds|
Sale beat 14-man Exeter 25-20 to inflict a second successive defeat on the reigning Premiership champions.
Byron McGuigan and Facundo Cordero exchanged early tries before Sean Lonsdale put Exeter in front.
Chiefs had Jack Yeandle sent off for contact to the head after 26 minutes and Sale's Bevan Rodd scored just before the break to level at 15-15.
Sam Simmonds put Exeter back in front but Curtis Langdon's 70th-minute try helped seal Sale's victory.
Sale's first win in three games moves them up to third place in the Premiership, three points behind second-placed Exeter, whose losing bonus point means they are two off leaders Bristol having played an extra match.
A thrilling encounter got off to a great start as first Faf de Klerk produced an excellent pass from a tap penalty to allow McGuigan to dive over in the fourth minute before Cordero spectacularly weaved his way past four defenders from 30 metres out to go in under the posts.
AJ MacGinty's penalty put Sale ahead, but the game turned shortly after Lonsdale was mauled over from a close-range lineout for the visitors' second try.
From the resulting kick-off, Sale skipper Jono Ross was sent to the sin-bin for a challenge on Sam Skinner while he was catching the ball in mid-air.
And a minute later Exeter captain Yeandle was dismissed by referee Karl Dickson after the hooker hit Langdon's head with his shoulder before he was able to wrap his opposite number.
The sending off - the sixth Premiership red card in seven days - was a first card of any colour in Yeandle's near nine-year Exeter career.
It was the first sending-off for an Exeter player for an on-pitch infringement since Jonny Hill was red-carded against Wasps in February 2017 - the Chiefs' one red since came for Harry Williams against Saracens in December 2019 after the England prop had been replaced.
MacGinty had a 34th-minute try ruled out after a television replay showed a knock-on in the build-up, but with their numerical advantage the hosts broke the champions' resistance in the final minute of the half as Rodd scored his first Premiership try from close range.
Sale gave away three soft penalties in quick succession 10 minutes into the second half, allowing Exeter to get a five-metre lineout which led to Simmonds scoring his 12th try of the season as he slipped down the blindside as the hosts' defence switched off.
But as the half wore on the hosts' extra man began to tell. MacGinty had a second try disallowed after an hour when Cobus Wiese got in the way of an Exeter tackler in the build-up, before Langdon picked up the ball from the base of a maul and darted in with just over 10 minutes left.
MacGinty's second penalty five minutes from time gave Sale breathing space, but it proved to be a nervy finish for Alex Sanderson's side as Exeter won a number of penalties deep in Sharks' territory in stoppage time.
However, as they sought a match-levelling try, Sam Simmonds fumbled a five-metre lineout as he appeared to be impeded by Ross Harrison, allowing Sale a rare win over Exeter.
Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson told BT Sport:
"It was an epic battle between two good teams and there were a lot of decisions on the ground that could have swung the game either way.
"At the end of the day you've got to take the referee out of it and look at your own performance.
"Our discipline almost lost us the game on a few occasions and at the end it probably could have done.
"But I've lost as many of those games as I've won in the past, so you take the slim ones when you do win."
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon:
"Is it [the red card] malicious? Of course it's not. Is he a dirty player? Well everyone knows he's not, he doesn't have any discipline issues.
"But they are the rules and if he's tucked an arm in you are deemed to be always illegal and you've got to get on with it.
"I don't want to take away the fact that they've gone out there and fought, and they've done well and we've got a losing bonus point.
"If you go back 60 minutes and you go 'would you take a losing bonus point here?', you'd be a fool not to take a losing bonus point."
Sale: L James; McGuigan, S James, Hill, Yarde; MacGinty, de Klerk; Rodd, Langdon, John, Beaumont, de Jager, Ross (capt.), Neild, D du Preez.
Replacements: Ashman, Harrison, Oosthuizen, Wiese, Dugdale, Quirke, R du Preez, Hammersley.
Sin-bin: Ross (26)
Exeter: Hodge; Cordero, Whitten, Devoto, O'Flaherty; J Simmonds, Maunder; Hepburn, Yeandle (capt), Williams, Lonsdale, S Skinner, Ewers, Vermeulen, S Simmonds.
Replacements: Innard, Moon, Street, Armand, Capstick, Townsend, H Skinner, Hendrickson.
Sent off: Yeandle (26)
Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU).
- Rugby Weekly Union podcast - listen and subscribe here