Three first-half tries saw Exeter Chiefs move into the top four of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table after a scrappy win away at Sale Sharks.
A powerful start for the Chiefs earned them a penalty try before winger James Short crashed over in the corner.
Scrum-half Will Chudley scored their third before the break, suggesting the visitors could rack up another impressive total – after scoring 57 against Worcester Warriors last week.
But the second half was pointless, as Sale failed to find a way through a tight Chiefs defence.
Great game @ExeterChiefs. 4th in the Premiership Table 👏🏼
— Hannah White (@hannahiwhite) December 2, 2016
There was good news before kickoff for Sale Sharks with former England hooker Rob Webber fit enough to return for the first time since he broke an arm on the opening day of the season.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs handed Don Armand a first start of the season and Italy international Michele Campagnaro made his first league appearance of the campaign from the bench.
The Chiefs, in hot form, made a fast start and scored the game’s first try in the eighth minute as a driving maul resulted in a penalty try and a yellow card for Sharks captain Josh Beaumont.
Sale responded through an AJ MacGinty penalty, but the Chiefs’ power was too much for them to handle and, after another maul, winger Short powered over in the corner for his second try in as many weeks.
In a physical contest, the Sharks struggled to get out of their half and the pressure told shortly before half-time as the Exeter moved close to a bonus point with a splendid try.
A break from Sam Hill opened up the Sharks’ defence and he released Short, who spotted the well-timed run of Chudley – who scored their third try of the night.
— Maxime (@BarrettBigFan) December 2, 2016
Sale introduced veteran Irish scrum-half Peter Stringer after the break to inject some urgency into their game, and the ball began to move to faster through their hands – testing Exeter’s defence.
But the Chiefs held firm, keeping their shape impressively and denying Sale space out wide.
The Sharks broke into Exeter’s 22 for the first time in the 64th minute and some slick passing almost saw them score but for some last-gasp defending from Exeter denied them.
Sale kept pushing forwards but Exeter managed to keep them out in an important victory.