Oriol Ripol claimed two tries as Sale made light work of Newcastle in the EDF Energy Cup, winning 28-5 at Edgeley Park.
He proved an able deputy for Mark Cueto by touching down either side of the break while Chris Jones added a late third try for the hosts and Daniel Larrechea kicked 13 points in the absence of Charlie Hodgson.
Despite resting the likes of Cueto, Hodgson, Andrew Sheridan and Jason White, Sale powered to a victory which director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre had demanded.
Having masterminded last season’s Premiership title success, Saint-Andre has this year set his players the audacious goal of retaining their Premiership crown and also winning the Heineken Cup and EDF Energy Cup. They failed to even reach the Anglo-Welsh knockout stages of the latter competition last term.
But, after Larrechea struck two perfect penalties from 45 metres inside the first 11 minutes to put Sale 6-0 ahead, there was little doubt they would get this season’s campaign off to a winning start.
Newcastle, with Jonny Wilkinson still sidelined and Toby Flood having this week joined the injury list, were forced to play Tom Dillon at No.10.
Dillon, usually employed at centre, attempted to embark on an early run down the left flank but was unceremoniously hauled into the advertising hoardings by some aggressive Sale tackling.
Matthew Burke had the opportunity to gain the visitors some respite in the 16th minute but his miss proved costly as Larrechea claimed his third penalty in the 24th minute having missed one moments earlier.
Sale were hit by a serious-looking injury to Lionel Faure shortly after the half hour mark, which resulted in the French prop being stretchered off.
But their dominance continued and Ripol’s first try on the stroke of half-time was indicative of their control.
Initial good work from Richard Wigglesworth allowed Jason Robinson to saunter forward and his exquisite long offload allowed Ripol to finish clinically in the right corner.
Larrechea failed to convert but shortly after the break Sale extended their lead when Ripol raced clear on the blindside of Newcastle’s defence to claim his second try.
Larrechea converted the try and then hit the post with an attempted drop-goal in a largely lifeless second period before Jones barged his way over in the closing stages before Matt Thompson’s last-minute try ensured Newcastle had the last word.