Danny Cipriani, called in as part of a re-shuffle when Cameron Shepherd had to withdraw from the original fifteen, put the Sharks ahead with a 7th minute penalty. Wilkinson equalised nine minutes later and Cipriani was unlucky to hit the bar with a huge penalty attempt on 21 minutes.
Just before the half hour mark, Wilkinson missed another penalty chance but the respite was brief. Smith collected an inconclusive defensive clearance kick with minimal opposition, and veered towards to left corner to score the game's only try.
Sharks won a penalty at a scrum after 33 minutes, Cipriani narrowing the gap to just two points but Wilkinson restored the balance three minutes later. In the damp conditions, handling was sloppy from both sides, and half time arrived with the scoreboard showing 6-11.
Sharks made an encouraging start to the second half, but the game became something of an arm wrestle. The highlight was a superb steal on 50 minutes by Gaskell, but within seconds Masoe intercepted an ambitious Cipriani pass. Luckily for the Sharks, he was caught on the 22 line, but at the expense of a penalty which Wilkinson duly sent between the posts.
Sharks replied with a Miller run, a Cliff charge and a great Cueto tackle. Wilkinson banished th oughts of a Sharks losing bonus point when he sent over his fourth successful penalty on 74 minutes. Nonetheless, the home team continued to battle, but were spared a further score against them when the TMO ruled 'No Try' after Tillous-Borde had breached the home defence and slithered over the line under the posts. Rob Miller looked to have saved the day and the final whistle followed the Man in the Van's decision.
The influence of John Mitchell is beginning to show on the home team. "One thing I asked of the guys this week is the need to stay in the contest a lot longer," he said. "We showed more maturity than we did last week. We didn't get frustrated when we lost possession.
"We're after staying in the contest a lot longer, and we generated some exceptional work without the ball. An example of how much we've grown in a week is the way we defended our goal line with about twelve minutes to go.
"When we go to Toulon, it will be a different kind of contest in different conditions. The French are more emotional at home. I'm looking at these two weeks to determine a mix for the games round Christmas and the New Year.
"It was a very good collective performance. Although I'm loathe to single out individuals, scrum half Will Cliff had a very good game."
Scoring (Sharks first): 3-0, 3-3, 3-8, 6-8, 6-11 (Half Time) 6-14, 6-17.
Sale Sharks: 15.Rob Miller, 14.Mark Jennings, 13.Corne Uys, 12.Johnny Leota, 11.Mark Cueto, 10.Danny Cipriani, 9.Will Cliff, 1.Ross Harrison, 2.Tommy Taylor, 3.Tony Buckley, 4.Richie Gray, 5.Fraser McKenzie, 6.James Gaskell, 7.David Seymour (capt.), 8.Richie Vernon
Replacements: 16.Tom Cruse (not used), 17.Eifion Lewis-Roberts for Harrison (60), 18.Vadim Cobilas for Buckley (60), 19.Kearnan Myall for McKenzie (54), 20.Andy Powell for Vernon (51), 21.Nathan Fowles (not used), 22.Tom Holmes (not used), 23.Charlie Amesbury for Uys (69)
Sale Sharks' next home game will be against Worcester Warriors, in round 12 of the Aviva Premiership.
As a Christmas treat, buy a Sharks home, alternate or European shirt and save on your ticket to watch #SHAvWAR. Click here for more information on this great offer.
|Sale Sharks Score Card|
|Toulon Score Card|