Winger Lesley Vainikolo scored twice as Gloucester hammered Sale Sharks with a magnificent seven tries in a one-sided Guinness Premiership clash at Kingsholm.
The game was over after just 30 minutes as Gloucester grabbed four tries and a bonus point. It was just the performance that Sale head coach Kingsley Jones did not want after his club plunged to 11th place in the Guinness Premiership following Worcester’s 13-0 win over Newcastle on Friday night.
Sale’s scrum was at the heart of their early demise, failing to cope with the power and weight from the Cherry and Whites’ pack. Just seven minutes into the match Gloucester forced a penalty try as the Sharks’ scrum collapsed near the posts.
Former England wing Vainikolo was sent over twice in the same patch of ground, the left corner, to put his side well and truly in command.
Centre Mike Tindall, returning from four months out with a hamstring injury, had a hand in the move that gave the big Tongan winger both his tries, passing to full-back Olly Morgan to ship the ball on for the first and starting the second that led to Vainikolo going through a big gap.
Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera then theatrically dived over near the posts as the defence parted like the Red Sea for the bonus-point try that, with three Nicky Robinson conversions, put Gloucester a commanding 26-0 in front.
The scrum steadied towards the end of the period as Sale managed to reach the home 22 for the first time in the match. Their best try-scoring chance came when wing Oriol Ripol put in a neat grubber kick to the corner and was only denied a try by good cover. Eventually a Charlie Hodgson penalty got Sale on the scoreboard but the outcome became inevitable.
Both teams tried to play some rugby but Gloucester’s line was rarely threatened. And eventually they went over the 30-point mark when Welsh fly-half Nicky Robinson chipped over the top of the lone Sale defender on the left and dived on the ball, crashing into the advertising boards.
Robinson dusted himself down and converted his own score before James Simpson-Daniel pounced on his own kick to the Sale line when full-back Marika Vakacegu failed to cover. Gloucester were ending as they began and an unopposed sprint through to the line from replacement flanker Andy Hazell rubbed salt into the toothless Sharks’ wounds at the end.