Sale Sharks have booked a quarter-final spot in the European Challenge Cup thanks to a 39-10 win over Perpignan.
Tries from Chris Ashton, Arron Reed, Josh Beaumont, Kieran Wilkinson and Tom Bristow secured victory for the Manchester club. The result means that they finish top of Pool 3 and receive a home tie against Connacht in the knockout-stage.
The victory saw the hosts spend long periods in opposition territory, applying relentless pressure on their visitors.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Steve Diamond’s men as they fell behind with only four minutes on the clock. Perpignan winger Jean-Bernard Pujol went over in the corner to make it 5-0.
It wasn’t to be long before Sale overturned the deficit because England international Ashton opened the Sharks’ account. The winger latched onto the end of a high ball from Wilkinson before crashing over.
Seven minutes later their lead was extended as winger Reed picked up the ball from South African Faf de Klerk off the back of a scrum to go over.
De Klerk added a penalty before the break to make it 15-5 at half-time.
The second half continued in the same fashion as its predecessor ended. The Sharks continuing to apply pressure and the pressure paid off as second-row Beaumont scored Sale’s third try to rub salt in the Perpignan wounds.
Jono Ross and his men didn’t sit back though as they collected the bonus point on the hour mark as Wilkinson ran over from open play. De Klerk then added the extras to make it 29-5.
An infringement later on in the half allowed replacement Will Cliff to add three more points from the tee.
Tom Bristow placed they cherry on top of what was a ruthless display as he ripped the ball from the grasp of Sadek Deghmache before running through to score his sides fifth try of the afternoon. A conversion from Cliff made it 39-5.
There was to be a late consolation try for Pujol, but the damage had already been done.
Sale Sharks now have a break before turning their attentions to the Premiership Rugby Cup when they welcome the Newcastle Falcons on February 3.
Photo credit: Sale Sharks