Sale got the better of Gloucester 24-19 to ensure that a point next week will see them qualify for the 2012/13 Heineken Cup.
Bryan Redpath's departure from Gloucester this week and strong rumours that he will become part of Sale's setup next season added significant extra spice to this match which already had the small matter of a Heineken Cup place for next season at stake.
And that hunger and desire to get one over on the opposition spilled over early on as both Akapusi Qera and Rob Miller were sin-binned inside the first five minutes for fighting to make it fourteen-a-side for a ten minute spell.
While the pair were cooling off, Freddie Burns and Nick Macleod exchanged penalties but it took until midway through the first half for the game to catch fire again.
First Miller crossed for the Sharks after a good pass from England Under-20 international Will Addison had put him through.
Charlie Sharples replied almost instantly for the home side though and the conversions and two further penalties from Burns made it 16-10 to the Cherry and Whites at the break.
Burns extended the lead with another three points early in the second half but Sale were not about to lie down and, after some patient approach play, Mark Cueto provided Miller with his second try of the afternoon.
Macleod struck the post with the conversion but more than made amends with a penalty midway through the half to reduce the deficit to just a point and another with ten minutes remaining to put his team 21-19 ahead.
And the fly-half added a late drop-goal to secure the win and almost guarantee Heineken Cup rugby for next season as they now sit five points ahead of their opponents in the table with just one game left.
Pens: Burns 3
Tries: Miller 2
Pens: Macleod 3
Yellow cards: Akapusi Qera (Gloucester), Rob Miller (Sale)
Gloucester: 15 Jonny May, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Alasdair Strokosch, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Peter Buxton (capt), 5 Alex Brown, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Tom Voyce.
Sale: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Will Addison, 12 Sam Tuitupou (capt.), 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Cillian Willis, 8 Andy Powell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Mark Easter, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Andrei Ostrikov, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Lee Imiolek, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Tom Holmes, 20 Tommy Taylor, 21 Scott Mathie, 22 Andrew Higgins, 23 Charlie Amesbury.
Referee: David Rose