Two sides low in confidence and high in frustration clashed at Welford Road today where hosts Leicester Tigers welcomed Steve Diamond's Sale Sharks.
Following a period of scratchy possession for the visitors, Sale opened proceedings with a try for England winger Marland Yarde in the fourth minute.
Having replaced the illness-stricken USA standoff AJ MacGinty, stand-in fly-half Sam James shifted the ball along to fullback Byron McGuigan, who sent the miss-pass out to Yarde for the first of Sale's three tries of the afternoon.
A composed score from the likes of James, McGuigan and Yarde, having made the most of the field position afforded them by a cross-field bomb from the boot of scrum-half Will Cliff, who more than made up for the loss of possession, within their opponents half, following a knock-on from Russian lock Andrei Ostrikov.
Leicester replied almost immediately, with a second Ostrikov handling error affording the home side the possession to mount their first considerable attack.
Leicester's frontrow won the penalty from the ensuing scrum, seeing England fly-half George Ford dispatch the ball to the corner and conduct his troops as they built towards Kyle Eastmond's twelfth-minute score.
A lovely piece of interplay from Tigers' fleet-footed midfield trio of Ford, Eastmond and Gareth Owen, with all three playing their hands in Leicester's first score of the day. With Ford successfully slotting the conversion, the home side led 7-5.
Any hopes Sale had of regaining their early lead were lost with yet another end to their possession within Leicester's half, with McGuigan's second attempted pass to Yarde ending in a forward pass directly into touch.
Ford extended Tigers' lead to five points in the 23rd minute when Sale and England openside Tom Curry was penalised by referee Craig Maxwell-Keys for an indiscretion at the breakdown.
The visitors were set on clawing their way back in front following Ford's first penalty of the day, gradually edging through Leicester's half through an extended period of patient possession.
However, there was further pain for the Sharks as Leicester openside Guy Thompson poached the ball from Sale's ruck within the 22, stripping his opponents of possession and allowing Tigers to release the pressure Sale had so painstakingly built.
England winger Jonny May thought he had extended Leicester's lead shortly after Thompson's poaching-display when Sale centre Luke James coughed up possession directly into Ford's hands. The standoff promptly shipped the ball to May, who sprinted in 60 metres unopposed before being called back for a forward pass.
Shortly after the half-hour mark, Cliff missed his first attempted penalty of the day, aiming to reduce the five-point deficit following a Leicester scrum penalty.
With four minutes to go during the first 40, Ford succeeded where Cliff had failed, slotting his second penalty of the afternoon following a Sale scrum penalty this time, setting up his side to their eventual 13-5 score once Maxwell-Keys had blown for the end to the first-half.
Both sides continued to litter the afternoon with handling errors and inaccuracies, with Sale's mistakes proving the most egregious, appearing within Leicester territory more often than not.
A meagre four opportunities within Leicester's half profited just two conclusive scores from Sale, with scrum-half Will Cliff knocking on at the ruck in the 43rd minute within a metre of Tigers' line after a period of promising possession, while a 55th minute Rob Webber lineout went astray to further compound Sale's poor ball retention within their opponent's half.
Two second-half tries for Sale for starting and bench hookers Rob Webber and Curtis Langdon proved inept in closing the visitors' scoreboard disparity, with missed conversions from Cliff and McGuigan failing to outweigh Ford's two second-half penalties.
Leicester themselves will feel fortunate to have seen out their two-point victory. Sale's error rate proved infectious in the second-half, seeing the home side throw away their own fair share of scoring opportunities within the Sharks' 22.
Far from a classic, but Leicester's fifth-round victory puts the Midlands side on level pegging with fourth-placed Harlequins, with 13 points from a potential 25. However, this also puts the Tigers in seventh spot behind Gloucester and Bath, who also sit on 13 points.
Sale languish in twelth place, having registered a mere 5 points so far this season, picking up just one win so far, having beaten Worcester Warriors at home three weeks ago.
Further frustration for Steve Diamond and Sale's fans, with a strong theme of lost opportunities marring what could have been a healthy victory, if not for the lack of a fly-half to kick the points and guide the travelling side through a trying afternoon.
Tries: Eastmond (12)
Conversions: Ford (13)
Penalties: Ford (23, 37, 68, 76)
Tries: Yarde (4) - Webber (61) - Langdon (78)