Ford: Plenty of work to do
A week after they lost their unbeaten home record in the European Cup to reigning champions Saracens, the three-time winners got off to a flying start and scored 15 points in the opening 12 minutes.
But they failed to score again in a game that saw no points in the second half from either side.
Having bagged two tries while Magnus Lund was in the sin-bin in that fast start, many though the French side would cruise to a bonus point victory.
"First and foremost it's a win," said Ford.
"But after those first 20 minutes we will be disappointed with the rest of the game – there is plenty of work for us to do.
"We scored 15 points when Magnus Lund was in the sin-bin ad at half-time we said we needed another good start to the second half. Our discipline had been good in the first half, but Sale's pressure and our indiscipline in the second half got them into the game.
"In the end, what won us the game, was our line-out defence. That enabled us to keep out Sale's driving maul.
"There were one of two things that I thought we had put in place in training that didn't come off, so there is more work to do in our preparation. There is a lot of improvement to come from this team and, hopefully by January when we meet Saracens again, we will be a different team."
Wales and British & Irish Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny scored 10 points for the visitors to take his tally in the tournament to 367 points in 41 games for Cardiff Blues and Toulon.
"In patches today we were good, especially in the first 20 minutes. We stuck to the game plan brilliantly in that period, but we then slipped off for the rest of the half," said Halfpenny.
"That put pressure on us and, credit to Sale, they took it to us after that and there were some desperate times for us to keep them out. We are happy with the win and now we will look to the next one."