Sale Sharks ran in eight tries to hammer a woeful Exeter Chiefs side 55-12 in Saturday's Aviva Premiership showdown at Sandy Park.
Steve Diamond's men have been known to upset the odds this season, and did so again with their first ever away win against the Devon club. The win will have pleased Sale's director of rugby, but the manner of it will have been just as satisfying, as his side dominated from start to finish.
The Chiefs' best hope of making Europe's top competition now depends on finishing in seventh place, which would secure a play-off against the team which finishes seventh in the Top 14.
Many players have stood out for Sale so far this season, none more so than Michael Paterson, who continued his sparkling for with the game's opening score. The New Zealander was able to break through a couple of tackles, and stretched to give the visitors an early lead.
Both sides contributed to a thoroughly entertaining game, with both teams having chances in an end to end encounter. Whilst Sharks' defensive improvement has been hailed by many this season, they have also been able to rack up the points when they need to.
They certainly proved that point when they ran in two tries in three minutes, first through full-back Tom Arscott, then through influential centre Sam Tuitupou.
Sale were in bonus point territory with just half an hour gone. The Chiefs were stunned, with Rob Baxter's men unable to cope with the away side's game plan. The shell-shocked Chiefs did eventually kick into life, with a super score from Fetu'u Vainikolo on the stroke of half-time to give the home side something to cling on to going into the break.
The away side had their bonus point guaranteed on the hour mark. Danny Cipriani's delayed pass was floated brilliantly into the hands of Tuitupou, who skipped over for his second of the afternoon. What is usually a vocal home crowd at Sandy Park was in utter disbelief.
Exeter is the furthest team away from Sale in the Premiership, but they looked right at home, and went in for their fifth with 15 minutes still on the clock. Exeter lost the ball at the base of their own scrum, and Welshmen Dwayne Peel took full advantage, sneaking in down the blindside to put Sale past 30 points.
Incredibly, Sale had their sixth not long after. Dave Seymour was standing in for injured captain Dan Braid at openside flanker, and emulated his teammates try scoring talents, blasting through two tacklers before going in under the posts. Tom Brady then went over, but the Chiefs finally giving the crowd something to cheer a few minutes later. Carl Rimmer was given the credit as Exeter mauled over the line. There was still time for one more, as Andrei Ostrikov brought up the half century for sharks with the last play of the game.
Tries: Vainikolo, Rimmer
Tries: Paterson, Scott, Tuitupou 2, Peel, Seymour, Brady, Ostikov
Cons: Cipriani 4, Ford 2
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Ben White, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Alex Brown, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Hoani Tui, 19 James Phillips, 20 James Scaysbrook, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Luke Arscott.
Sale: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Charlie Ingall, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Viliami Fahiki, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 James Gaskell, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Andrei Ostikov, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mark Jennings.
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey and Paul Burton
TMO: Geoff Warren.