Exeter Chiefs and Saracens recorded contrasting wins as third-placed Harlequins left it late to sink Bath in Saturday's Premiership action.
Table-topping Exeter led 15-0 at the break away at Sale Sharks, Ollie Devoto and Don Armand scoring tries following Gareth Steenson's early penalty.
However, the visitors were forced to repel a second-half fightback from the Sharks, who crossed twice in the final quarter of the contest to secure a losing bonus point.
Sean Lonsdale's try represented the only points the Chiefs managed after the break, yet they held on to triumph 20-14 and record a 12th win in 15 league outings this season.
In contrast, second-placed Saracens had few problems against Northampton Saints, cutting the gap at the top courtesy of a 36-17 result at Allianz Park.
The reigning champions wrapped up a bonus point inside the first half-hour and scored six tries in total, Sean Maitland grabbing two of them as the hosts eased into a 29-3 half-time lead.
Harlequins found life far tougher against Bath, Nathan Earle's last-gap try eventually clinching a thrilling 31-29 result that stretches their winning run to five games.
The visitors appeared set to see their streak come to an end when they trailed 29-21, only for Earle to complete an impressive comeback by diving in at the right corner in added time.
In Saturday's other fixture, Joe Ford was the hero for Leicester Tigers in their clash with Wasps, the fly-half scoring all his side's points in a 19-14 victory.
Wasps had led 14-9 at the break, Rob Miller converting on both occasions after Marcus Watson had twice gone over, but Ford steered the home side to glory in the second half, including converting his own try.