Exeter kicked off towards the South Stand but Sharks were soon making metres, Cueto chipped ahead and the move was eventually cleared by Exeter.
Sale were dealt a blow early doors when Dan Braid picked up a hand injury and left the field with the Doctor to attend to the injury which was diagnosed as a broken finger and a bad cut to his hand. Richie Vernon back from training with Scotland all week came on as a temporary replacement.
Sharks had a let off on 8 minutes when a flowing crossfield move found Nowell on the wing but he knocked on as he crossed the line.
Referee Garner was penalising both sides almost every play and was in effect halting a fast flowing game.
The first points came on 13 minutes when Steenson slotted home a penalty from 22metres. Sharks then mounted a series of attacks and the referee awarded two penalties which Cipriani kicked into touch for line outs.
With Braid back on the field a rolling maul was set up after a line out and Braid emerged with the ball in hand to claim the try. Cipriani's conversion was wide but Sharks were in front at 5-3.
The lead was short lived as Steenson slotted home his second penalty on 21 minutes. 5-6.
The crowd were becoming restless with the referee's constant whistle blowing at what seemed every opportunity.
Frustration was spreading on the field and on the half hour a fight started and after the last punch was thrown referee Garner handed it to the TMO for a decision. Both captains were called to the referee and instructed to calm their players down.
Exeter stepped up their game and were awarded a try after good approach play. The TMO judged that Fijian winger Votu had grounded the ball. Steenson converted and the Chiefs led 5-13.
Sale regrouped and put pressure on the Exeter defence but were penalised again. Dean Mumm was spoken to by the referee for the second time. Cipriani attempted a 60metre penalty but the ball fell short.
As the half time whistle blew David Seymour was in deep conversation with the referee on the half way line, obviously concerned about the mounting penalty count against his side
Half Time Sale Sharks 5 Exeter Chiefs 13
Exeter went further ahead four minutes after the restart with another Steenson penalty and the game looked to be moving away from Sharks 5-16.
On 54 minutes though the biggest cheer heard at the new stadium since Sharks move was reserved for Mark Cueto who scored in the corner and in doing so he finally broke the all time Premiership try scoring record held by his good friend Steve Hanley. Steve's record had stood since 2006. Rob Miller converted the try and the crowd of 8232 believed the great escape was on. 12-16
Sharks started to introduce their replacements and in doing so moved up a few gears. Rob Miller kicked a penalty on 58 minutes and Sharks went back in to the lead for the first time since the 22ndminute with a Cipriani penalty that bounced off one of the uprights before the touch judges raised their flags.
Kia Horstmann was sin binned by referee Garner for persistent infringement at the breakdown and Sharks went looking for more points.
Three minutes from time Nick Macleod who had replaced Rob Miller at Full Back dropped a goal to send the home fans wild. Sharks then lost Kearnan Myall to the sin bin and Sharks had to play out time with 14 men.
The drama was far from over as Exeter had a try disallowed when Scaysbrook was adjudged to have knocked the ball forward as he palmed the ball to Nowell.
The final whistle blew when Danny Cipriani kicked the ball into Row Z of the main stand following a line out that Sharks had won.
Final Score Sale Sharks 21 Exeter Chiefs 16
Sale Sharks:Rob Miller (off 63mins); Charlie Amesbury (off 50mins), Johnny Leota, Sam Tuitupou, Mark Cueto; Danny Cipriani, Dwayne Peel (off 50-58mins); Ross Harrison (off 54 mins), Tommy Taylor (off 60mins), Henry Thomas (off 60mins) ; Tom Holmes (off 54mins), Kearnan Myall; Daniel Braid (off 2-12mins, 44mins), David Seymour (capt), James Gaskell.
Replacements: Marc Jones (on for Taylor 60mins), Alasdair Dickinson (on for Harrison 54mins), Tony Buckley (on for Thomas 60mins), Fraser McKenzie (on for Holmes 54mins), Richie Vernon (on for Braid 2-12mins, 44mins), Will Cliff (on for Peel 50-58mins, 64mins), Nick Macleod (on for Miller 63mins), Will Addison (on for Amesbury 50mins)
Score Sequence (Sharks first):
0-3, 5-3, 5-6, 5-11, 5-13, (Half Time) 5-16, 10-16, 12-16, 15-16, 18-16, 21-16
|Sale Sharks Score Card|
|Exeter Chiefs Score Card|