Ed Slater scored two first-half tries as Leicester Tigers put Sale Sharks to the sword 48-3 to boost their Aviva Premiership play-off ambitions.
Consecutive defeats to title challengers Harlequins and Saracens had put a dent in Tigers’ hopes of a home semi-final but they responded in style by running in six tries at Welford Road.
Sale by contrast had won on their last away trip, against fellow strugglers London Welsh, but were never in this game.
The Tigers didn’t have it all their own way early on though, with two early chances to score for the first try going begging, one because of a forward pass, and the second when Logovi’i Mulipola knocked on.
Ford had given Leicester an early lead with a first-minute penalty but it took until the 25th minute for them to score their first try.
It came after a period of concerted Tigers pressure, with Matt Smith heavily involved before the ball popped out for Slater to drive over. Ford converted to extend the lead to 10-0.
While that was clearly the spark that was needed, it was Sale who were next on the scoreboard, Nick McLeod slotting a penalty just after the half-hour, only for Ford to his back instantly.
The match was evenly poised, but in Dan Bowden, Leicester had someone pulling the strings in midfield, and it was the New Zealander’s delicate grubber through that set up the Tigers’ second try.
Adam Thompstone looked certain to score, only to be taken out by Tom Brady, who was sent to the sin bin, with Tigers awarded the penalty try.
Ford duly converted, and got the chance to add another two after Slater doubled his tally just before the break.
Some great hands through the Tigers backline allowed the second row a little space, and he took full advantage to sprint over from fully 40 metres out.
That gave Leicester a 27-3 lead at the break, and they wasted no time sealing the bonus point immediately after the break, Smith scoring his first try eight minutes into the second half.
A stolen lineout from captain on the day, Tom Croft, gave Leicester some prime attacking ball, and when the ball was spread wide, Smith was on hand to go over.
Five minutes later he was over again, Bowden showing all his class to send Smith under the posts unopposed.
With 13 minutes remaining Mathew Tait ran in Leicester’s sixth, as Sale fell apart, Ford completely a perfect afternoon with the boot with his sixth conversion, to add to two penalties.
Sale did at least have the final word, Andy Powell crashing over, with replacement Danny Cipriani slotting the conversion, but it was far too little too late.