Leicester Tigers were beaten 36-3 as Marland Yarde claimed three of the five tries for Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday evening.
Sharks went into Round 11 with a won-five, lost-five record and sitting in third place in the table, and claimed three first-half tries to take a grip of proceedings on a windy and chilly evening in the North-West.
All three scores came in the closing 10 minutes of the half after Tigers had started with a Noel Reid penalty.
But, after being pushed back by a series of penalties, and with skipper Dan Cole yellow-carded, Tigers conceded scores from Bryn Evans, Yarde and Coenie Oosthuizen before the break.
Playing into the wind in the second half, it was always going to be tough against a Sharks side with one of the best defensive records in the country.
Tigers also lost Noel Reid to the sin bin and then Yarde added the bonus-point try and another for good measure.
Sharks included England flanker Mark Wilson for his first start in a season’s loan from Newcastle, and there was a late call-up for wing Denny Solomona when Chris Ashton was withdrawn during the warm-up.
Tigers were without their five England players as well as the injured Ben White, Sione Kalamafoni and Jordan Taufua as they got the game started and had points on the board as Reid kicked the opening points with just four minutes played.
They defended the lead with some strong work across the halfway line, with Tomás Lavanini and Jaco Taute prominent until the South African left the field with a shoulder injury, giving Johnny McPhillips his Premiership debut off the bench.
Reid struck the post with another penalty before Sale finally gained territory down the right and they stayed there as Tigers were penalised three times at defensive lineouts, judged to have gone too early with the ball in the air, and finally captain Cole was shown the yellow.
The visitors remained stubborn in defence, with Reffell at the heart of more good work in the middle of the field, and then they wrapped up man and ball to frustrate the home team just a few metres out from the tryline.
But with Cole waiting to get back on field at the end of his 10 minutes and Tigers looking to have weathered a storm, they were finally breached when Evans charged down a clearing kick from Jack Van Poortvliet and saw the ball bounce back into his hands to score.
Sharks added to the lead when Yarde raced on to a delayed pass in midfield for a straight run to the line and Rob Du Preez added the conversion to make it 12-3.
An enterprising attack using the blindside stretched Tigers again and, although Sharks had progress stalled near the line, eventually they set up one more phase and prop Oosthuizen reached over to score his first Premiership try. The conversion made it 19-3 at half-time.
The second half opened with rain sweeping across the field and Tigers having to play out from deep before losing Reid to a yellow card for a tackle on Yarde on the touchline which the referee reviewed with his TMO.
Reffell was replaced by Harry Wells as Sharks kicked to the left-hand corner and he got fingertips to the Sharks throw, forcing an error rewarded with scrum put-in.
Match referee Tempest, though, awarded Sharks a free-kick at the set-piece, followed by a penalty which they pushed into the corner as they searched for their bonus-pint score. But Lavanini and Wells latched on to the ball and won the turnover.
A dart from scrum-half Will Cliff threatened until Sharks dropped ball in attack and 18-year-old debutant Van Poortvliet kicked clear.
But Sharks were then awarded a penalty at a scrum 20 metres out from the Tigers line and Du Preez added the points for a 22-3 lead.
Kyle Eastmond took the captaincy when Cole made way on 66 minutes, but Tigers were penned back as Yarde completed his hat-trick with tries in the 68th and 72nd minute.
First, the wing finished from a Rob Du Preez pass on the left and then latched on to a kick from Sam James to add another with the fly-half adding both conversions on a miserable evening for the visitors.