A late try from Antoine Claassen ended Sale Sharks' hopes of making it to the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals as they fell 19-9 to Brive at Edgeley Park.
It was a predictably tight affair on Thursday, with the Sharks needing to win by eight or more points in order to send the French out of the competition.
But with the scoreline locked at 9-9 with just six minutes remaining, back-row forward Claassen went over in the corner before five points from the boot of centre Julien Caminati sealed Sale's fate.
A kicking duel ensued almost immediately after the first whistle and it was fly-half Nick Macleod who struck the first blow inside 20 minutes, a second coming following Caminati's leveller.
Macleod landed his third successful kick after Sale were fortunately awarded a penalty despite a backpedalling scrum, but Caminati reduced the score with the final kick of the half to make it 9-6.
Sale began the second half brightly but they were unable to put further distance between themselves and their opponents on the scoreboard. Instead, the Brive centre was the first to strike as he levelled things up on 50 minutes.
In the closing stages, Brive then started to take a stranglehold on proceedings and when power and patience saw Claassen dive over in the corner on 75 minutes, Caminati made sure that Brive's name would be the first in the Amlin Challenge Cup last-eight shake-up.
In Pool Five's other game taking place on Thursday, Agen made light work of Spanish side La Vila, scoring ten tries in an easy 62-7 triumph. Agen finish 17 points off leaders Brive.
Pen: Macleod 3
Pen: Caminati 4
Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Joaquin Tuculet, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Andy Powell, 7 David Seymour (capt), 6 James Gaskell, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Lee Imiolek, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Jordan Davies, 23 Richie Vernon.
Brive: 15 Clement Marienval, 14 Jacques Boussuge, 13 Julien Caminati, 12 Arnaud Mignardi, 11 Augustin Figuerola, 10 Scott Spedding, 9 Augustin Figuerola, 8 Julien Le Devedec, 7 Poutasi Luafutu, 6 Antoine Claassen, 5 Retief Uys, 4 Thibault Dubarry, 3 Alexandre Barozzi, 2 Iuri Natriashvili, 1 Davit Khinchagishvili.
Replacements: 16 Louis Acosta, 17 Pablo Henn, 18 Pablo Cardinali, 19 Olivier Caisso, 20 Alexandre Bias, 21 Vincent Forgues, 22 Riaan Swanepoel, 23 Mathieu Belie.
Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
Assistant referees: David Changleng (Scotland), Bob Nevins (Scotland)