Leeds (0) 3 Pens: Thomas Sale (0) 6 Pens: Macleod 2
The tryless encounter was strewn with handling errors on both sides
Leeds remain rooted to the foot of the Premiership table without a win from six games after Sale emerged victorious in a dire encounter at Headingley.
The first half, although pointless, had plenty of endeavour on both sides as Leeds enjoyed most of the possession.
Ceiron Thomas finally opened the scoring three minutes after the break with a penalty for Leeds.
But Nick Macleod landed two penalties for the visitors and Thomas sent a opportunity to level the score wide.
The first half was characterised by phase after phase of Leeds possession, aided by their superb line-out, but their endeavour was matched by Sale's sometimes brutal defence.
It was cagey and tight but both sides cancelled each other out and the chances were limited to one failed shot at goal by Thomas.
The visitors began the second half in more attacking mood and despite going behind, after Sisa Koyamaibole entered a ruck from the side, they took the game to Leeds.
But, like their opponents, the Sharks frequently produced errors in contact with Andrew Sheridan uncharacteristically twice losing the ball in tackles.
Leeds, who had lost dynamic open-side Hendre Fourie to a rib injury, were on the back foot and after a Charlie Hodgson drop-goal attempt hit the upright, play was called back for a Sale penalty.
Macleod stepped up and slotted the kick to draw the scores level with 50 minutes on the clock.
The Welshman was on target again eight minutes later to make it 6-3 and then struck the upright with a mammoth penalty attempt from 50 metres as the match entered its final quarter.
Both sides lacked penetration behind the pack but even with the Sharks not attacking the Leeds line-out and appearing content to concede possession, it was the Yorkshiremen who looked devoid of ideas.
Leeds head coach Neil Back said: "I don't believe we are devoid of confidence. It was a tough game dominated by defences.
"Sometimes you have got to give credit to that part of the game. And if you get away with it that's great.
"Sale slowed up the ruck and ultimately it came down to a few opportunities and Sale took theirs and took the points.
"They slowed the game down at the contact area and you've got to applaud that. They were smarter than us."
Sale head coach Mike Brewer said: "The whole thing for us was about coming to Leeds to win.
"I knew that on a pitch that is not very wide like Headingley it's difficult to score a try here.
"You don't get around Leeds easily - they don't miss tackles. For us it was about field position.
"We managed the game pretty well in the second half. We wanted to keep them pinned in their own corner and from there it was about building the points.
"It's on the home team to provide the entertainment, it's up to the away team to find the win."
Leeds: Thomas; Stephenson, Tincknell, Burrell, Blackett; Mackay, Mathie; Hardy, Thompson, Gomez; Denton, Wentzel (capt); Myall, Fourie, Browne. Replacements: Barrow for Tincknell (58), Fa'afili for Blackett (70), Alonso for Hardy (66), Titterrell for Thompson (58), Swainston for Gomez (66), Oakley for Fourie (40), Paul for Browne (58). Sale: Williams; Cohen, Macleod, Tuilagi, Cueto; Hodgson, Cliff; Sheridan, Briggs (capt), Wihongi, Lewaravu, Rouse, Fearns, McMillan, Koyamaibole. Replacements: Forster for Sheridan (69), Croall for Wihongi (69), Brightwell for McMillan (71), Ormsby for Koyamaibole (53). Att: 5,571
Ref: Jerome Garces (France).