Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson described their 26-24 Premiership victory over Gloucester as “bittersweet”.

The Sharks kept themselves in top-four contention after defeating one of their rivals for a play-off spot thanks to tries from Faf De Klerk, AJ MacGinty, JP Du Preez and Jean-Luc Du Preez.

It could have been much better for Sale, however, with the hosts 26-12 ahead when De Klerk’s errant pass allowed the Cherry and Whites to get back into the contest.

Second-half scores for Charlie Chapman and Louis Hillman-Cooper, which added to an earlier brace for Santiago Socino, gave the visitors two bonus points.

“I’m pleased with the five points but it’s bittersweet after gifting them two,” Sanderson said.

“That could come back to bite us later on in the season, but we’ve just got to keep winning.

“We’ve got to focus on that and the positives. We’ve had some real issues with illness and injury over the last 10 days so for all those changes to occur and for the lads who weren’t even involved at the start of the week to come on and do as well as they did, I’m chuffed for them.

“I’m proud of them so we will have a drink and celebrate.”

It was the maul which kept Gloucester in contention but Sanderson revealed that, after flu swept through the camp, Sale were unable to do much set-piece work.

“They do that well week in, week out and a bit of discipline in and around the breakdown gave them that field position,” he added.

“We haven’t been able to do much set-piece training because of injuries and illness the last couple of weeks, so we will sharpen up on that and maybe take a leaf out of their book - have a look at their maul and see how they do it.”

Sale are now just two points behind Gloucester in the Premiership table, with only six points separating Harlequins in third and the Sharks in seventh.