Charlie Hodgson's farewell to Edgeley Park ended in disappointment as Sale Sharks slipped to a 30-24 defeat at the hands of Exeter Chiefs.
The England fly-half was making his final appearance for the club on home soil as he prepares to join Saracens at the end of the season after 11 years' service.
Hodgson, 30, was given a rousing send-off at the final whistle but he was powerless to prevent the vibrant Chiefs from claiming a hard-fought win.
A penalty from Exeter fly-half Ignacio Mieres put Rob Baxter's men ahead and in the 23rd minute they claimed their first try when Phil Dollman's long pass found wing Nic Sestaret and he plunged over in the right corner.
Mieres, an impressive figure at number 10, converted the score to put his side 10-0 ahead but Sale fashioned a spirited response to draw level before the break.
Hodgson kicked a penalty in the 31st minute and two minutes later Will Addison embarked on a strong run down the left channel before an audacious offload sent Chris Bell racing clear.
Hodgson converted the try but Mieres' second penalty in the 43rd minute restored their lead and a defensive mistake in the 49th minute allowed Matt Jess to scamper clear from inside his own half.
Mieres converted the score but Sale replied when Wame Lewaravu went over in the 67th minute but Exeter claimed a penalty from Gareth Steenson and a try from Tom Hayes which Steenson also converted.
Sale hit back through Addison's last-minute try and Hodgson converted to at least salvage a losing bonus point.
Tries: Addison, Bell, Lewaravu
Cons: Hodgson 3
Tries: Hayes, Jess, Sestaret
Cons: Mieres 2, Steenson
Pens: Mieres 2, Steenson
Sale Sharks: 15 Nick Macleod, 14 Paul Williams, 13 Chris Bell, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Will Addison, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole 7 Carl Fearns, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Wame Lewaravu, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Lee Imiolek, 18 Eifion Lewis Roberts, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Neil McMillan, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Kyle Tonetti
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Sireli Naqelevuki, 11 Nic Sestaret, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Tom Hayes (c), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Neil Clark, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 Chad Slade, 20 James Phillips, 21 Junior Poluleuligaga, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Bryan Rennie.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU)