Exeter withstood a late scare to record their fifth Aviva Premiership victory of the season and move to the top of the table following a narrow 10-6 triumph over Sale.
In conditions ideally suited for exciting rugby, the game was anything but. The Chiefs struggled to find holes in the Sharks' defence and had to be content with a solitary Gareth Steenson penalty in the first half.
To the Sharks' credit, they were resilient and well-organised, even if they failed to create too many chances, and were rewarded by Faf de Klerk, who levelled proceedings at the break.
Lachie Turner's converted try moved the visitors ahead in the second period but de Klerk kept things tight going into the final quarter following a second three-pointer. Sale duly pressed for the winning score but, despite a late yellow card for Stuart Townsend, the Chiefs held on.
Fresh from an exceptional victory over Montpellier in the Champions Cup, the defending Premiership champions began confidently.
A misjudged Will Addison kick almost let the visitors in as Ian Whitten and Harry Williams both made incursions through the opposition rearguard, but another knock-on ended a promising attack. Exeter were unrelenting, however, and they deservedly went ahead when Steve Diamond's men were penalised for obstruction and Steenson kicked the resultant opportunity.
Against the run of play, Sale equalised as de Klerk punished a visiting indiscretion at the set-piece to level matters at 3-3. The scrum-half then missed the chance to take the Salford-based outfit ahead from the tee before Henry Slade did the same for Rob Baxter's team, skewing an effort wide of the left-hand upright to leave the match locked at the interval.
Half-time only proved to be a brief respite for the Sharks as the West Countrymen continued to control territory and possession after the break. This time, the Devonians managed to remain composed as the hosts finally wilted and Turner strolled across the whitewash for a seven-point score.
De Klerk reduced the arrears with an impressive long-range three-pointer and the hosts looked to increase the intensity in the final 20 minutes. It was initially the Chiefs that had the upper hand in the latter stages but Sale produced one last surge.
Excellent hands from Bryn Evans allowed Denny Solomona to get to within inches of the line before the pressure led to a yellow card for Exeter's Townsend. However, Baxter's men held out and went away with a deserved victory.