Sale Sharks continue strong form with comfortable win over London Irish
Sale maintained their superb start to 2016 with a bonus-point 38-10 victory over Aviva Premiership strugglers London Irish to record their sixth win in seven games.
Steve Diamond's side dominated proceedings on their return to Premiership action with winger Nev Edwards bagging a brace of tries and Brian Mujati, TJ Ioane, Sam James and Sam Tuitupou also touching down.
The victory extended a fine run of form for the Sharks that has seen them win every game since the turn of the year.
But for second bottom Irish the manner of the comprehensive defeat served as a sobering reality check after a recent upturn in form for Tom Coventy's side.
Fly-half Shane Geraghty drew first blood for Irish with a second-minute penalty but it was Sale who then seized the game by the scruff of the neck despite playing into the teeth of a ferocious gale with freezing sleet also buffeting the AJ Bell Stadium.
And within three minutes Diamond's side had breached the visitors' defence with former South Africa prop Mujati driving over from close range after a sustained period of Sale pressure.
Sale almost struck again after 15 minutes only for full-back Mike Haley to spill the ball as he attempted to crash over the line.
But the Sharks did not have to wait too long for their second try as five minutes later Samoan flanker Ioane rounded off a series of forward rumbles by breaching the Exiles' defensive line to increase Sale's lead, fly-half Danny Cipriani adding the conversion.
However Irish managed to weather that early Sale storm and should have scored their first try after 30 minutes when lock Will Lloyd breached a gap in the hosts' back line only to knock the ball on as he slid over the line.
But they did finally score three minutes from the break when, after a series of five-metre scrums, referee Greg Garner awarded Irish a penalty try, Geraghty's conversion ensuring that Irish went in at the break only 12-10 down.
Sale though responded in immediate fashion just two minutes into the second half.
Former New Zealand centre Tuitupou made the break and his offload found centre James who gratefully touched down, Cipriani's conversion stretching Sale's lead to 19-10.
And the Sharks struck again after 55 minutes to record a bonus-point clinching fourth try when James and Ioane combined to carve open an overlap for winger Edwards who ran in under the posts, Cipriani again adding the extras.
And the one-way traffic continued just after the hour in almost similar fashion when James again spotted a gap in the Irish midfield to feed Edwards for his second and Sale's fifth score of the day.
Things went from bad to worse for the Exiles after 69 minutes when Tuitupou also got in on the scoring act to record Sale's sixth try of the day, replacement fly-half Joe Ford slotting over the conversion to wrap up victory.