Callum Sheedy scored 11 points as Bristol won a scrappy match against Sale 16-10 at Ashton Gate.
Ioan Lloyd scored Bristol's only try, which Sheedy converted after the outside-half had kicked three penalties, while Cameron Neild scored Sale's try with AJ MacGinty adding a penalty and a conversion.
After a drab opening, Sale had the first chance for points but Rob Du Preez's 40-metre penalty bounced back off a post.
Soon after, Du Preez was presented with a chance from a similar range but this time Sale opted to seek an attacking line-out only for the South African to kick the ball straight over the dead-ball line.
The first quarter was abysmal, devoid of any interest or entertainment, with Sheedy having Bristol's only scoring opportunity - but his wide-angled penalty attempt sailed wide.
Sheedy was then given an easier chance and this time he made no mistake to give his side the lead before Bristol put together the first sustained pressure of the match.
The hosts battered the Sale line but the opposition defence held firm so it was left to Sheedy, with a second penalty, to extend Bristol's lead.
With the drizzle arriving, the visitors continued with their aerial bombardment but the tactic got them nowhere as they persistently got on the wrong side of the referee, with Sheedy capitalising by knocking over a third penalty as Bristol held a 9-0 interval lead.
Bristol lock Dave Attwood fumbled the restart to give the visitors their first foray into the opposition 22 but they suffered a blow when their skipper Jono Ross departed with a leg injury.
Former Bristol player James Phillips replaced him, with Sale also bringing on front rowers Akker Van Der Merwe and Coenie Oosthuizen in an attempt to reverse their fortunes.
Bristol scrum-half Andy Uren was penalised for a high tackle to give the visitors another entry into the 22 but they lost another line-out to prevent them from building any pressure.
However, they continued to have the better of the third quarter although there was never any danger of them threatening the try line.
They replaced their disappointing half-backs Will Cliff and Du Preez in favour of MacGinty and Embrose Papier and it paid immediate dividends when they produced a flowing three-quarter move which covered 70 metres.
From that platform, Harry Thacker's high tackle was penalised for MacGinty to put Sale on the scoreboard with 18 minutes remaining.
Bristol lost lock Chris Vui to the sin bin for dragging down a line-out drive so the hosts had to play the last 10 minutes with 14 men, but Sale lacked the accuracy to make it count and Bristol broke to score when replacement Lloyd collected Harry Randall's kick ahead to score.
Sale looked like coming away with nothing but replacement Neild crossed with two minutes remaining to secure a bonus point.