By PA Sport Staff
Sale started their Heineken Champions Cup Pool B campaign with an emphatic 39-0 victory over Ulster at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The visitors had to fly over on the morning of the match due to travel issues and struggled to deal with the physicality of their hosts in Salford.
Six different try-scorers crossed for Sale, captain for the day Rob du Preez converting three of them, while their Irish visitors drew a blank on a tough afternoon.
After a tight opening quarter, the hosts soon began to assert their authority on the contest and scored their first try after 23 minutes.
Du Preez started the move before playing a superb inside pass to onrushing winger Arron Reed, who in turn found England international Tom Curry to open the scoring, the flanker dotting down at the second attempt to get his side up and running.
The Sharks needed just three minutes to add a second, scrum-half Gus Warr taking a quick penalty inside the Ulster 22 and offloading to Daniel du Preez, who powered over from close range.
Rob du Preez converted his brother’s try before adding a penalty to give Sale a deserved 15-0 lead at the break.
The one-way traffic continued after the restart as Sale continued to dominate physically, scoring their third try of the day through Rob du Preez.
The fly-half saw an attempted pass to Reed blocked by Ulster’s Ethan McIlroy before the ball somewhat fortunately fell back into du Preez’s hands for him to cross in the corner.
Alex Sanderson’s side continued to showcase the strength of their pack by earning regular penalties from scrums and at the breakdown, Bevan Rodd providing a great impact during the hour he was on the field.
The Sharks sealed their bonus point just after the hour mark with a fourth try, substitute Tom Curtis adding his name on the scoresheet after collecting a short pass from Rob du Preez and powering over from 10 metres out.
The visitors did not go down without a fight and pushed for their first points of the match in the latter stages but struggled against a strong Sale defence who were determined to hold on to their clean sheet.
Another substitute, Byron McGuigan, was next to cross after pouncing on a loose Ulster lineout and the scoring was complete when Reed got Sale’s sixth after applying the finishing touch to a brilliant move from the halfway line.
Both teams have a date with French opposition next week, Sale facing a trip to Toulouse while Ulster return home and welcome La Rochelle to the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday.