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Tom Roebuck hat-trick helps Sale boost play-off hopes with Exeter mauling

TOM ROEBUCK scored a hat-trick of tries as Sale kept alive their hopes of claiming a Gallagher Premiership play-off spot by blowing away Exeter 41-5 in a breathtaking display at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Sale had lost their previous six competitive fixtures coming into Sunday’s clash and had been defeated by Exeter in 13 of the last 16 matches between the clubs.

That included a 43-0 loss at Sandy Park back in October, but the Sharks turned around those unwelcome statistics in some style.

As well as Roebuck, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Gus Warr and Raffi Quirke were also on the try-scoring sheet with George Ford adding a penalty and four conversions.

Exeter’s points came courtesy of a try from England winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

Ford had the first opportunity for points but his 40-metre penalty kick into the tricky wind sailed wide.

Sale soon suffered a further blow when flanker Ernst van Rhyn departed with a leg injury to be replaced by Sam Dugdale.

However, Dugdale was immediately into the action by tearing away from a line-out to put the Chiefs defence on the back foot and when the ball was recycled, a well-timed pass from Ford sent Roebuck over for the opening score.

Ford converted and Sale, the better side in the opening quarter, had a deserved 7-0 lead at the end of it.

That lead was extended when Exeter flanker Richard Capstick went off-side at a ruck and Ford knocked over the resulting penalty.

Despite playing with wind advantage, Chiefs struggled to gain any foothold in the match with Sale fy-half Ford marshalling affairs to reward the domination of his forwards.

It therefore came as no surprise when Sale scored a second try when former Exeter favourite Cowan-Dickie finished off a line-out drive.

The visitors’ woes continued when their full-back Josh Hodge was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on, with the home side capitalising by scoring their third try.

A fired-up Manu Tuilagi made the initial break which was carried on by Roebuck and Bevan Rodd before Warr weaved his way over.

Ford missed the conversion but his side still led 22-0 at the interval, following a half in which their opponents had failed to fire a single shot.

Fifty seconds after the restart, Sale scored their bonus-point try when Roebuck collected a Warr up and under to race away for his second of the afternoon.

Hodge returned from the sin bin and in time to see his side get on the scoreboard thanks to an excellent individual try from Feyi-Waboso, who possessed too much pace and power for Sale’s coverers.

However, normal service was resumed when Sale replacement Quirke darted away from a quickly-taken penalty to score.

Roebuck should have then completed his hat-trick but somehow lost possession over the line but it mattered little as he was soon presented with the opportunity to achieve the feat and this time he made no mistake.

With 15 minutes remaining, Tuilagi and Sharks skipper Ben Curry were replaced but there was to be no addition to the score as Sale celebrated an impressive return to winning ways.

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