Sale responded from their opening LV= Cup defeat in Wales by claiming a 27-3 victory over Leeds at Edgeley Park on Friday.
Sale responded from their opening LV= Cup defeat in Wales by claiming a 27-3 victory over Leeds on Friday.
But the real test for both sides will come at Headingley next Sunday when they meet again in the Guinness Premiership.
Leeds arrived at a rain-lashed Edgeley Park on the back of successive wins against Wasps and Leicester but a youthful side were no match for a battle-hardened Sale outfit.
All the points were scored in the first half as Sale ran in four tries to lead 27-3 and keep alive their hopes of progressing in the Anglo-Welsh tournament.
Leeds led through an early penalty from rising star Joe Ford but Sale asserted their authority on proceedings by running in tries from Marika Vakacegu, Oriol Ripol, Rob O'Donnell and David Seymour.
The result was a welcome tonic for Sale ahead of next week's rematch in the Premiership when Leeds will be aiming to claim a first-ever and potentially season-defining victory over their northern foes.
Leeds are currently bottom of the Premiership but their recent impressive form – not least their victory away at Wasps – has encouraged hopes that relegation may not be the foregone conclusion many pundits are predicting.
Sale have struggled for consistency themselves this season but they dominated this encounter, albeit with a far stronger line-up.
After Ford slotted over a seventh-minute penalty, the pendulum swung well and truly in Sale's favour.
In the 13th minute, they fashioned a delightful move which saw the ball worked from left to right and pass through the hands of Chris Leck, Charlie Hodgson, David Bishop and Mathew Tait before Vakacegu applied a clinical finish in the corner.
Hodgson, outstanding for Sale in the opening period, could not add the extras in difficult, blustery conditions and then hit the post with a penalty attempt moments later.
Yet Sale soon had their second try when Seymour broke the Leeds line and ushered Spanish wing Ripol over in the left corner.
Hodgson's luck deserted him again as his conversion attempt rebounded off a post again to safety but Sale's superiority was underlined in the 24th minute when O'Donnell showed brute strength to burrow his way over from close range.
Hodgson added the extras and a penalty soon after and Sale secured a bonus point in the 40th minute when Seymour's work-rate was rewarded with a fine try after the flanker burst forward onto Tait's astute offload.
Hodgson converted but was withdrawn after 10 minutes of a largely nondescript second half in which neither side created any meaningful try-scoring opportunities.
Leeds deserved credit for not throwing in the towel and a late spell of pressure almost led to a try but Sale held firm.
Tries: Vakacegu, Ripol, O'Donnell, Seymour
Con: Hodgson 2
Sale: 15 Nick Macleod, 14 Marika Vakacegu, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 David Bishop, 11 Oriol Ripol, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Chris Leck, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole 7 David Seymour, 6 Kristian Ormsby, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Chris Jones, 3 Gavin Kerr, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Rob O'Donnell.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Jack Forster, 18 Martin Halsall, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Ben Cohen, 23 Ed Styles.
Leeds: 15 Jon Goodridge, 14 Luther Burrell, 13 Jonny Hepworth, 12 Henry Paul, 11 Scott Armstrong, 10 Joe Ford, 9 Scott Mathie, 8 Rhys Oakley, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Tom Denton, 5 Jon Pendlebury (c), 4 Alex Ball, 3 Pete Bucknall, 2 George Warner, 1 Gareth Denman.
Replacements: 16 Alex Moreno, 17 Mike MacDonald, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Richard Beck, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Dan White, 22 Jason Strange, 23 Peter Wackett.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)