CHARLIE Sharples crossed for his 50th competitive try but it was little consolation as Gloucester crashed to yet another Premiership defeat.
The Cherry and Whites travelled north buoyed by recent results but they were undone by indiscipline as Sale Sharks edged to victory.
They made a perfect start at the AJ Bell Stadium as Martyn Thomas crashed into the corner after just a minute and Sharples repeated the feat to reach a half-century of Cherry and White tries.
From a quick-tap Freddie Burns boomed a long kick over the head of Mark Cueto. The former failed to deal with the ball in swirling conditions and Sharples pounced to scamper over the line
But yellow cards either side of the break proved costly as Gloucester conceded 14-points while at a numerical disadvantage and they never recovered.
Sharples said: “We both saw the space in the corner and luckily I had a good chase and got an opportunist bounce to get over in the corner.
“Mark (Cueto) said a few words to me at the end of the game which was quite funny but it’s always a nightmare when you’re a winger chasing back and can’t see the ball.
“I chase a lot of them and don’t always get them so it was nice to get just rewards.
“We got a losing bonus-point but that’s no consolation. We didn’t deserve any more because we didn’t play well enough.”
While Sale ran in four tries and Sharples did not want to take anything away from them, he insists Gloucester were their own worst enemies.
The Cherry and Whites appeared to have made real progress in recent weeks but an all too familiar picture was painted in Manchester. The set-piece creaked, the battle at the breakdown was lost and discipline went astray and ultimately that was their downfall.
Sharples said: “We’re obviously very disappointed with the result. The middle third of the game killed us - once again discipline let us down and cost us the game.
“We had high hopes on the back of a good three or four weeks. The worst thing was we went up there and didn’t do ourselves justice.
“It was a long bus journey back with a lot of time for thinking. I don’t want to take anything from them but we feel we didn’t perform.
It gets no easier for Nigel Davies’ men in the coming weeks with trips to Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints either side of a home clash with Harlequins.
And Sharples admits it will be an agonising wait to get back on the pitch.
He added: “We have a long turnaround until Leicester now. It’s never nice losing on a Friday and having a Sunday game the following week with the game on your mind.
“We’ve got a really big challenge ahead of us but we have to take it one game at a time.
“It’s that period now where teams are missing players due to the Six Nations, we’re missing a few but other teams will be without key guys.”