A full-house crowd of 24,000 saw Tigers run in eight tries in a 54-21 victory, with two scores coming in the opening seven minutes of the match.
“We didn’t really know what to expect from them with the changes they went through last week,” said Cockerill as Sale made their first appearance since the departure of head coach Mike Brewer.
“We were really intent on a big start, that was important for us, and we got that. We got on the front foot with the early tries.
“We tried to keep the intensity we have had for the last couple of weeks against Perpignan. They were tough, physical games and we tried to carry on that this week.
“We needed the points, it was important. We had to change a few and rest a few and we’ve got injuries, so I’m delighted with the five points.”
Anthony Allen grabbed the opening score inside five minutes, and there were tries for Manu Tuilagi (2), Scott Hamilton (2), Rob Hawkins, Alesana Tuilagi and Matt Smith. Fly-half Jeremy Staunton, in his first start since mid-September, kicked seven conversions.
“I thought Staunton did really well,” said Cockerill. “And we’ve got good young players who are developing all the time. Manu was at the fore in all of our good bits.”
Now Tigers face the long trip to Exeter on Sunday before the next home game, against Aviva Premiership leaders Northampton Saints on Saturday, November 8.
“Exeter are a good side and we expect a tough test down there,” said Cockerill. “They have surprised a few people already this season but we saw at Welford Road early on that they have a good squad, they are well coached and they are learning well in this league.”