Sale Sharks ended the pool stage of the Champions Cup in impressive fashion after they secured a 49-10 victory over the Ospreys at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The home side were dominant throughout but the first quarter laid the foundations as they physically overwhelmed their Welsh opponents, with Tom Roebuck’s try opening the scoring.
Although the home side missed a number of other opportunities, Arron Reed crossed the whitewash to give them a 14-3 lead at the interval.
Ewan Ashman and Dan Du Preez then sealed the bonus point before Harri Deaves got one back for the United Rugby Championship side.
It proved to be just a consolation score, though, as the hosts crossed three more times through Curtis Langdon, Roebuck and Jack Metcalf to confirm the Ospreys’ European elimination.
With Sale’s passage into the last-16 already assured, their aim was to find the type of form which has so far eluded them in the Premiership, and they started with plenty of intent.
Reed had a score ruled out for an illegal clear-out while both Rob Du Preez and Lood De Jager knocked on over the line, which meant Roebuck’s try was the hosts’ only reward for their dominance.
Alex Sanderson’s men were in the ascendency in both attack and defence, and it led to a second try as Reed finally got his moment.
The left wing was indebted to the work of Ben Curry and Bevan Rodd, however, as the flanker turned the ball over at the breakdown and gave it to the England prop.
Rodd sprinted clear and then showed outstanding skill to find the speedster on the outside, leaving Reed with the easy task of touching down unopposed.
The Ospreys had barely been in the Sale half but they finally built some pressure when Dan Evans scythed through the home side’s defence.
Evans was brought down short of the line but they kept going through the phases and eventually earned a penalty which was kicked by Joe Hawkins.
Sam Cross unfortunately went down with a nasty-looking injury in the build-up to that score and was stretchered off.
There had been a high attrition rate in the first half, with a number of Ospreys players leaving the field for head injury assessments, while Sale’s Nick Schonert was replaced after suffering a lower-leg injury.
With the Welsh region having an already-depleted squad, it only hampered their chances further and they struggled in the second period.
Five minutes after the break, the Sharks extended their advantage thanks to a close-range Ashman effort before another fine move ended in Dan Du Preez sealing the bonus point.
To the visitors’ credit, they continued to battle and were rewarded when Deaves touched down on debut, but it was not enough to spark a comeback.
Instead, Sale crossed three more times in the latter stages as Langdon, Roebuck and Metcalf all went over to complete a dominant win.