Sale Sharks claimed their first away win of the season, and a bonus point, with a comfortable Aviva Premiership Rugby victory over Bristol Rugby at Ashton Gate on Sunday.
Paolo Odogwu and Mike Haley both crossed for tries in the first half as Steve Diamond’s side – in their first meeting with Bristol since 2009 – opened up a 12-0 lead at the interval.
After the break Byron McGuigan went over while Andy Robinson’s side, who are still waiting for their first win of the campaign, only had two Shane Geraghty penalties to show for their efforts.
Bristol have conceded at least four tries in each of their last five fixtures at Ashton Gate and late on the Sharks secured the bonus point when replacement prop Eifion Lewis-Roberts barrelled over.
There was still time for young flanker Tom Curry to go over for their fifth try while the home side grabbed a late consolation through David Lemi.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) October 30, 2016
The Ashton Gate crowd were in good voice from the outset and Andy Robinson’s men started brightly.
But Gavin Henson – only just back from a dead leg sustained in round one – went off injured while Sale lost their goalkicker Will Addison as well in some bruising early exchanges.
But it was the visitors – who last won on their travels on the final day of last season – who drew first blood just before the 20-minute mark.
With Addison off with a head injury, a penalty that would normally have been kickable was sent to the corner and the Sharks forward pack got to work.
They tied in defenders with a number of short range charges up to the line and when the ball went left Odogwu was too quick to slide over in the corner.
McGuigan took over the kicking duties for the Sharks and missed the tough conversion but the away side were on top and soon had a second.
This time it was Haley – who celebrated his first England call-up on Wednesday – who scythed through the middle after Sam James’ delayed pass released him and the full-back rounded his opposite man to dot down.
This time McGuigan converted and it was 12-0 to the Sharks at the break.
— Stuart Almond (@AlmondStuart) October 30, 2016
Andy Robinson’s men needed a boost at the start of the second half but instead it only got worse as James conjured up a superb third for the away side.
The fly-half gathered his own dink over the top on halfway, stepped past the covering tackle before firing a superb pass out to McGuigan and the winger won the foot race to touch down in the corner.
This time McGuigan could not add the conversion but the Sharks were 17-0 to the good and Ashton Gate was in a stunned silence.
The hosts needed something to boost them and Shane Geraghty slotted two penalties before the hour mark to trim the lead to 17-6 and when Sale had hooker Neil Briggs sent to the sin bin the hosts sniffed a comeback.
But the Sharks weathered the storm well when down to 14 men and when Briggs returned they had their bonus point score, replacement prop Eifion Lewis-Roberts burrowing over from short range.
McGuigan added the conversion and as the game entered the final quarter the Sharks had already done enough, leading 24-6.
And there was still time for Curry to go over under the posts, collecting Haley’s offload after another searing break from the full-back.
Bristol rallied late on and Lemi went over for a late consolation but the day belonged to the Sharks as their third league win of the season lifted them back into the top six.