Sale Sharks all but secured their Premiership survival with a bonus-point victory over Gloucester, with Dwayne Peel, Johnny Leota, Cameron Shepherd and Mark Cueto all scoring tries.
SALE completed their Lazarus like comeback from the dead at a joyous Barton last night as they swept high flying Gloucester aside to all but secure their Premiership safety.
A stunning five try demolition job on the Cherry and Whites took the Sharks 13 points clear of bottom club London Welsh.
And with Welsh without a win all year and only having three games left, barring a miracle Sale’s top flight safety is now secure.
It capped a remarkable turnaround engineered by director of rugby Steve Diamond since he replaced John Mitchell with Sale at one stage 14 points adrift at the bottom.
However, Sale’s aggressive, abrasive and attacking display was simply too much for Gloucester who were blown away by a two try salvo in the opening six minutes and never looked back with the magnificent Dwayne Peel scoring a brace and Johnny Leota, Cameron Shepherd and Mark Cueto completing the rout.
It was the Sale their fans had expected to see last September when the season started and on this evidence the Sharks would have been a match for anyone.
For Diamond it was the completion of a survival special he has overseen with gusto since stepping down as chief executive to concentrate on rugby affairs on December 27.
“Welsh haven’t won all year and the form we have shown since Christmas bore fruit tonight so we’re happy,” said Diamond. “We looked few gift horses in the mouth but we smashed them and we approached it right.
“Keeping the club in the Premiership is a great achievement for the club and the players they deserve a lot of credit.
“A lot of things will be reviewed in the summer but the ground is becoming a real home ground and the crowd were great again tonight so they went home happy.”
The seeds of Sale’s magnificent win were sewn in a dramatic opening salvo which two tries from two charged down kicks.
With less than a minute gone, Leota sporting a mohican Mr T style haircut for charity charged down Dan Robson’s kick and the Samoan superbly gathered the ball to score.
Five minutes later lightning struck twice when Peel’s kick took a wicked deflection before Gloucester full back Rob Cook’s kick was charged down by the former Wales scrum-half who pound to score.
Though Freddie Burns slotted over a couple of penalties, Gloucester were constantly on the back foot with Sale’s pack in ferocious form and Peel driving the back line with skill and pace.
Cueto twice had chances to extend the Sharks lead before they finally struck for a third try right on half time.
Another lightning quick attack saw Sam Tuitupou play a superb if forward looking pass to Shepherd who sprinted over for a score confirmed by the TMO David Grashoff after lengthy deliberations.
It sent Sale in 22-6 to the good at the break and the traffic became even more one way in the second half with Gloucester – who haven’t won in Manchester since 2001 – simply unable to cope with Sale’s ferocious appetite.
Leota looked like he had scored again on 64 mins only for Grasshof got rule that effort out but with Sale camped on the Gloucester line and the Cherry and Whites reduced to 14 men when replacement Dave Lewis was sin-binned it was only a matter of time.
And fittingly it was Peel who struck for the all important fourth try thus sealing the bonus point when he beautifully dummied a pass from a short line out to charge over.
And with time almost up and the Sale fans in party mood, the Sharks sealed a memorable night when from Danny Cipriani’s delicate chip, former England war horse Mark Cueto gathered the ball to score in the left wing.
If only Sale could have played like this last September!
SALE: Shepherd; Brady; Leota; Tuitupou; Cueto; Macleod; Peel; Dickinson; Jones; Thomas; Myall; Ostrikov; Braid; Seymour; Gaskell
GLOUCESTER: Cook; May; Tindall; Twelvetrees; Monahan; Burns; Robson; Wood; Edmonds; Chistolini; Lokotui; James; Savage; Qera; Kalamafoni
Ref: David Rose