Sale 30 London Irish 29
Dwayne Peel provided the inspiration as Sale kickstarted their campaign to condemn London Irish to a second loss in the Premiership.
The scrum-half, who was overlooked by Wales for the World Cup, scored a fine try in the 58th minute to help ease home nerves after a see-saw encounter in which the Exiles fully played their part.
Peel was instrumental throughout and was pivotal when Sale led in the fourth minute. The former British and Irish Lion created the space for Rob Miller to break from full-back and supply prop Henry Thomas to crash over the line for a try which Nick MacLeod converted.
Tom Homer then booted a penalty for Irish before hooker David Paice burrowed over the line for a try which Homer converted.
However, in the 20th minute Sale forward James Gaskell raced clear down the left channel to score and MacLeod converted to put Sale 14-10 ahead.
Homer and MacLeod then kicked penalties in quick succession before Dan Bowden sent Jonathan Joseph over in the left corner in the 29th minute.
Homer added the extras and then traded penalties with MacLeod again before the break to leave the scores finely poised in Irish's favour at 23-20.
Homer added another penalty after the break but Peel found the space to race over in the 57th minute and MacLeod added the extras.
Irish pushed hard for a response and Homer added his seventh goal late but were forced to settle for a losing bonus point after Sale held firm in the dying embers of the match.