Premiership: Sale 39-0 London Irish - Sharks thrash Exiles to go top of Premiership

Sam James
Sam James had not scored more than one try in a game since a European Challenge Cup game against Lyon in October 2017
Gallagher Premiership
Sale: (12) 39
Tries: S James 2, L James, Webber, Solomona, McGuigan Cons: R du Preez 3 Pens: R du Preez
London Irish: (0) 0

Sale went top of the Premiership with a fine 39-0 win against London Irish.

Interceptions caused both of Sale's first-half tries as the Irish defence stood up to the Sharks' dominance - Sam James went in on 17 minutes before his brother Luke crossed in stoppage time.

Robert du Preez's penalty put Sale further ahead before Rob Webber was mauled over for Sale's third try.

Sam James got the bonus point before Denny Solomona and Byron McGuigan went over late on as Irish crumbled.

Sale draw level with Premiership leaders Exeter, but go above them by virtue of their better points difference, although the Chiefs have a game in hand, while Irish remain in eighth place in the table.

Two big summer signings made their debuts as former Ireland and British and Irish Lions flanker Sean O'Brien lasted 48 minutes after making his first London Irish appearance after recovering from a long-term hip injury.

Meanwhile, Sale's Lood de Jager came on for the final 25 minutes having not played since injuring his shoulder in South Africa's World Cup final win over England.

O'Brien was powerless to stop Sam James' opening try after 17 minutes as Motu Matu'u's pass was picked off by the Sale centre who glided over unchallenged from 20 metres.

Lood de Jager
Lood de Jager made his long-awaited Sale debut as a second-half replacement

Despite all their possession and territory it was not until the final play of the half that Sale fortuitously scored again - Ben Meehan's pass deep in Sharks territory was intercepted and Will Cliff and Ben Curry gained ground before Robert du Preez's break set up Luke James in the right corner.

Sale stepped up the pressure after the break and Irish could not live with Steve Diamond's men - Harry Elrington was sin-binned after a host of offences as Sale were encamped on the Irish line and Webber was forced over against the 14 men with 18 minutes left.

Sam James got his second try after an Irish mistake allowed Solomona to pick up and send him over before the winger went from provider to scorer as he dived into the corner with seven minutes left after a five-metre scrum.

Victory was confirmed in the final play of the game when Faf de Klerk's perfect cross-field kick was gathered by fellow replacement McGuigan and the Scotland back went over in the corner.

Sale: Hammersley; Solomona, S James, L James, Yarde; R du Preez, Cliff; Oosthuizen, Webber, Cooper-Woolley, Evans, J-L du Preez, Ross (capt), B Curry, D du Preez.

Replacements: Langdon, Harrison, John, Postlethwaite, De Jager, De Klerk, Curtis, McGuigan.

London Irish: Parton; Loader, Rona, Hepetema, Hassell-Collins; Myler, Meehan; Elrington, Matu'u, Hoskins, van der Merwe (capt), Mafi, O'Brien, Donnell, Tuisue.

Replacements: Faingaa, Goodrick-Clarke, Chawatama, Maddison, Rogerson, Cowan, Phipps, B Campbell.

Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe (RFU).