It was the kind of individual brilliance which the great Dan Carter might have managed in his all-conquering prime. But Sale Sharks’ loosehead prop Bevan Rodd?
When Rodd, who will link up with the England squad in Brighton for a five-day training camp on Monday as they begin preparations for the Six Nations, collected a pass from Ben Curry inside his own half in the 28th minute, a standard carry into contact beckoned.
Instead, the 21-year-old displayed remarkable pace to charge over the halfway line, past a clutch of leaden-footed Ospreys defenders, before finding Arron Reed with a brilliant long pass. Reed raced down the left flank to score but Rodd’s role in the winger’s try was unmistakable.
“Bevan’s got it all hasn’t he? It’s that kind of play which sets him apart from the other looseheads – it was outstanding,” said Sale’s director of rugby Alex Sanderson of a player who made his England bow in the autumn.
The two other Sale players in Jones’ 36-man Six Nations squad – the scrum-half Raffi Quirke and the openside flanker Tom Curry – also made notable contributions, the latter off the bench after replacing the captain Jono Ross in the 50th minute.
Significantly, Sanderson suggested that the Red Rose forward, a player considered indispensable to Jones, could feature in Sale’s Premiership home clash against leaders Leicester on Sunday –just six days before England’s Six Nations opener at Murrayfield.
Sanderson said: “Tom enjoyed himself today but he’s got a bit more of a shift to put in next week. There is a chance he might be staying back to get some more game-time. That’s between him and Eddie, but I don’t want to give anything away to Leicester. He hasn’t played a lot in the last couple of weeks. If it does happen, that will be the reason.”
After a first half of the season where progress has been slow in the Premiership for Sale, Sanderson can now look forward to a place in the last-16 of the Heineken Champions Cup .
After this seven-try success, Sanderson said: “This is a stepping stone towards the final in Marseille. Do I think we can get there? Yes I do, on that performance. On form, we have shown we can beat any side in the land.”
Sale always had too much quality for an Ospreys side who fell to their fourth straight pool-stage defeat. Yet they lacked precision during the opening 40 minutes and had three tries chalked off as chances were spurned.
Nevertheless, the winger Tom Roebuck claimed his first in the 13th minute when he collected AJ MacGinty’s sumptuous crossfield kick to score in the right corner. Reed then applied the coup de grâce to Rodd’s excellent work before the hooker Ewan Ashman dived over shortly after the interval. Sale began to cut loose and Dan du Preez finished off a scintillating move before Curtis Langdon and Jack Metcalf also touched down while Roebuck added his second.
Ospreys were outclassed from start to finish but Toby Booth took heart from the try-scoring performance of the debutant Harri Deaves in the back row. The Welsh region lost fellow flanker Sam Cross to a serious knee injury at the end of the first half.
Booth, whose side were missing a number of key players, said: “Sam is in a brace and on crutches and had to have gas and air on the pitch, so it looks like a knee ligament injury. Harri Deaves had an impact on the game and that point of difference was encouraging for him and us. But we didn’t do enough well enough for long enough and ultimately the physics took its toll.”