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Aviva Premiership: Sale Sharks virtually safe after beating Gloucester
Dwayne Peel scored two tries as Sale Sharks all but secured their Aviva Premiership survival with a dominant 32-9 bonus-point victory over Gloucester.
Johnny Leota, Peel and Cameron Shepherd all went over for Sale in the first half as they took a 22-6 lead into half-time.
Freddie Burns responded for the Cherry and Whites with two penalties before the break and added another in the second period.
But the hosts' scrum-half and Mark Cueto crossed the whitewash late on to move the Sharks above London Irish into 10th and dent Gloucester's play-off hopes in the process.
Only 56 seconds had elapsed when Leota touched down in the left-hand corner after Dan Robson's clearance was changed down by the Sharks' outside centre.
Burns did reduce the arrears almost immediately before another mistake - this time from full-back Rob Cook - saw Peel go over. Nick Macleod added the conversion and the Sharks led 12-3.
Gloucester's England international stand-off deservedly took them to within seven points through a penalty, but almost immediately the Cherry and Whites infringed at the scrum and Macleod duly extended the home advantage.
Sale's third try provided the perfect example of the hosts' attacking verve when a well-constructed move sent Shepherd through a hole and the former Australian international rounded Cook and touched down.
It was Gloucester who were first to register after the break when Burns kicked a penalty from their first sustained passage of play.
However, Sale continued to control proceedings and the pressure eventually told when Dave Lewis was sin-binned for a cynical infringement.
That allowed Peel to snipe around the fringes and go over to effectively secure the Sharks' place in next year's Premiership, before Cueto rounded off an outstanding performance with a last-minute score.
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|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle Falcons 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester Tigers 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle Falcons|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle Falcons 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester Tigers|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle Falcons|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale Sharks 18 - 11 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com