Aviva Premiershp: Sale Sharks devour Exeter Chiefs
Last Updated: 19/04/14 5:40pm
Vadim Cobilas and Eifion Lewis Roberts wrap up Exeter's Damian Welch
Sale Sharks ran in eight tries on their way to a crushing 55-12 victory over their top six rivals Exeter Chiefs to clinch a place in next season's European Rugby Champions Cup.
It was Sale's first win against the Devon club at Sandy Park and they had the bonus point secured by the hour mark.
Two tries in two minutes approaching the half-hour through Tom Arscott and Sam Tuitupou, added to an earlier touchdown from Michael Paterson, gave the Sharks a commanding 19-7 half-time lead.
Fly-half Danny Cipriani added two of his three first-half conversion attempts - the other hit the upright - but Exeter finally troubled the scoreboard just before the break with a try from Fetu'u Vainikolo which Gareth Steenson converted.
The Sharks dominated the second half with as second try from Tuitupou plus one each from Dwayne Peel, Dave Seymour and Tom Brady and Russia international second row Andrei Ostrikov.
Cipriani added two conversions with his replacement Joe Ford also landing a drop-goal and two conversions. Exeter's only reply in a very poor display came late in the half through Carl Rimmer.
Sale opened the scoring when they won an Exeter lineout which led to a break from second row Paterson, who shrugged off three poor tackles to power over the line for a Sharks try which Cipriani converted from the touchdown.
Unforced errors and missed first-up tackles continued to hamper the Chiefs' play and allow Sale to gain the territorial advantage. From a scrum, the ball was worked the ball wide with Cipriani giving the scoring pass for full back Arscott to touch down.
Cipriani saw his conversion attempt from close to the right touchline hit the near upright, but he drilled the ball between the posts a couple of minutes later after Viliami Fahiki had broken tackles and offloaded to Seymour for Tuitupou to score.
Exeter reduced the arrears just before the break. Tonga international Vainikolo sprinted 30 minutes down the left touchline and round behind the posts for a try and Steenson added the extras to leave the Chiefs trailing 19-7.
Sale pinned their hosts back in to their own half early after the restart but, when the Chiefs settled into their game and made progress towards the opposition line, they went for the wrong options and lacked cohesion.
Approaching the midway point of the half, the Sharks earned their bonus point as Tuitupou raced 35 metres to score his second try under the posts with Cipriani, who gave the scoring pass, adding the extras.
This took the game beyond the Chiefs but the Sharks added salt to the hosts' wounds as scrum-half Peel, who is moving to Bristol next season, scored in the right corner and Cipriani converted.
The embarrassment continued with Sale taking advantage as the Chiefs lineout proved too long and skipper Seymour collected to run the 20 metres to score under the posts. Replacement fly-half Ford converted and then a drop-goal.
Brady went over in the corner for the Sharks' seventh try as the Chiefs supporters began to leave the ground with five minutes still to play, Ford's touchline conversion attempt hitting the upright.
Just as in the first half, Exeter rallied in the closing minutes with a try from a driving maul with replacement prop Rimmer getting the touchdown.
But that was as good as it got for the Chiefs as replacement lock Ostrikov crossed for Sale's eighth and final try, which was converted by Ford.
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round 20
Saracens strengthened their position at the top of the Aviva Premiership table with a 23-18 victory over Newcastle.
Bath first-team coach declined to criticise the referee for George Ford's yellow card during the win over Worcester.
Wasps moved into the European play-off spot with a 38-30 victory over Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership at Twickenham.