CHINNOR made it three games unbeaten when seeing off Sale in an entertaining clash at Kingsey Road.
A pulsating National League 1 fixture was perfect for the neutrals, but it proved to be a nail-biter for the home faithful.
Chinnor produced their best rugby of the season to score six tries and lead 38-7 at half-time.
But Sale came roaring back to close to within a converted try with nine minutes to go, before the hosts dug in to record a bonus-point victory.
It means Chinnor have picked up 12 points in the last three weeks and have closed the gap to the four sides above.
The Thame-based club have reduced the deficit to second-placed Rosslyn Park, who beat leaders Richmond, to five points, while Blackheath and Rams – third and fourth respectively – both lost.
Director of rugby Matt Williams named an unchanged starting XV for the first time this season.
But there were two changes on the bench, with prop George Davis, dual-registered with Ealing Trailfinders, and scrum-half Callum Watson named among the replacements.
Chinnor made a brilliant start and had Sale retreating with their fine powerful breaks and expansive play.
Kieran Goss and Jason Worrall both broke through tackles early on and the home side were rewarded for their lively opening.
A scrum five metres out went rampaging towards the try-line and referee Daniel Collins awarded a penalty try.
Chinnor were looking impressive and did not let up.
Within 20 minutes they led by 19 unanswered points as hooker Nick Selway touched down from two driving lineouts. Laurence May converted the second try as Sale looked stunned.
The visitors looked to get on the scoreboard and Dan Birchall drove over, James Williams converting, as they made their first foray into the home side’s final third count.
But Chinnor continued to dominate and scored three more tries in the space of ten minutes.
Goss broke forward from full-back, sucked in a couple of tacklers, and fed No 8 Willie Ryan who sent scrum-half Jake Ashby scampering over out wide. May’s conversion attempt hit a post as Chinnor led 24-7.
The hosts were not finished and Goss stole a loose Sale pass, before winger Worrall made a fine break. Ashby then fed centre Chris Elder who had 20m of the pitch to run into and score. May added the extras.
It then became 38-7 at the break and Goss was involved again, this time setting up winger Josh Hodson, who beat one man to dive over, May converting.
Sale were always going to come out firing in the second half and quickly reduced the arrears within two minutes of the restart when James Williams converted his own try.
The visitors looked like a different team and unconverted scores from Jake Barron and Edward Leatherbarrow saw them close to within 14 points.
Suddenly the fixture had become tense, but the fact James Williams had been off the mark from the tee ensured Sale still needed two converted tries.
Chinnor had a golden opportunity to put the game to bed with 15 minutes to go following outside centre Pete Laverick’s superb break. But the hosts were unable to make the most of a two-on-one as Watson knocked on from an Elder pass.
The visitors were not finished and found themselves within a converted try with nine minutes to go when Jarad Williams dived over, James Williams converting.
But Chinnor defended well late on to see out an entertaining encounter and extend their unbeaten run.
Chinnor: Goss, Worrall, Laverick, Elder, Hodson, May, Ashby, Southworth, Selway, McNulty, Gray, Ehizode, Treviranus, Kirwan, W Ryan.
Replacements: Fidler, Davis, Manning, Watson, C Ryan.
Sale: Rawcliffe, Brady, Mulchrone, Leota, Ah Van, Williams, Bradley, Pope, Longmore, Talaese, Priestley-Nangle, Barron, Hughes, Leatherbarrow, Williams.
Replacements: Ford, Birchall, Dugdale, To’a, Quirke.