Bristol blown away by Sale
Sale Sharks went joint top of the Guinness Premiership with a 32-13 mauling of rock-bottom Bristol at Edgeley Park.
Last Updated: 20/02/09 11:04pm
Sale Sharks jumped up to joint top of the Guinness Premiership with a comprehensive 32-13 mauling of rock-bottom Bristol at Edgeley Park.
The visitors had taken an early six point lead courtesy of two penalties from fly-half Adrian Jarvis but Sale responded with 32 unanswered points before Dan Ward-Smith scored a last-gasp consolation try.
It was a miserable end to a day which had seen Bristol head coach Richard Hill appearing to have thrown in the towel at the cash-strapped club after allowing his assistant, Paul Hull, to take charge for the trip.
Hill, who had been in his position since 2003, did not travel to Stockport and the highly-rated Hull is now the clear favourite to be appointed as his successor.
And the visitors did not let him down as they raced to a 6-0 lead after nine minutes courtesy of two Jarvis penalties.
But Sale responded impressively, running in tries from Eifion Roberts, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Nick MacLeod and Neil Briggs to claim a bonus-point victory that sent them joint top.
It was no more than Sale deserved as Charlie Hodgson and Dwayne Peel continually laid the platform for a series of sustained attacks from behind the scrum.
Peel was especially lively and was unlucky not to profit after he charged down a kick from Tom Arscott inside Bristol's 22 in the 11th minute.
The home side began to build momentum as the half wore on and Chris Bell, who this week signed a new two-year contract with the club, embarked on a delightful run that drove through the heart of the Bristol ranks before an over-ambitious pass out wide put paid to the move.
It was indicative of the confidence in the Sale team. Bell and Mathew Tait proving ever-willing runners from the centres and, after Hodgson missed a penalty in the 21st minute, he converted one soon after.
Five minutes before the break, Sale claimed the only try of the first half in the scruffiest of fashions as Welsh prop Roberts burrowed his way over the line from close range.
Hodgson landed the conversion and then added a penalty on the stroke of half-time to put Sale in command at 13-6.
The Sharks' domination continued after the break and skipper Lobbe emerged from a thicket of players to touch down in the right corner in the 54th minute.
Hodgson added the extras from a difficult angle and then ushered MacLeod over the line five minutes later for Sale's third try.
The conversion was added by Hodgson but the discarded England fly-half could not add the extras to a 64th-minute touchdown from replacement hooker Briggs in the left corner after a fine, flowing move.
Further chances came and were spurned by Sale but victory was utterly convincing against a Bristol side who look destined for relegation, and not even a late consolation try from Ward-Smith, converted by Jarvis, could mask that fact.
It was their 12th defeat from 14 Premiership outings this season and left them nine points behind second-bottom Worcester, who now have two games in hand.