Henry Slade stars as Exeter Chiefs beat Sale to collect first Premiership win

Exeter Chiefs finally opened their Premiership account for the season on Sunday after beating Sale Sharks 25-15 to clinch their first win of the 2021/22 campaign.

Last season's runners-up had gotten off to a miserable start this term after failing to beat Leicester Tigers or Northampton Saints, but they're out of the gates to move off the base of the Premiership standings.

Stuart Hogg made his first appearance of the campaign since returning from British and Irish Lions duty, but it was Henry Slade who grabbed the headlines with two tries at AJ Bell Stadium.

Sale started strongly but were pegged back level by half-time, with any chance of victory hampered after Rohan Janse van Rensburg was sent off with half an hour remaining.

Ross Harrison made his first start at loosehead prop this season and gave the hosts a dream opening to proceedings, touching down within three minutes to send Sale ahead.

A Robert du Preez penalty pushed that lead into the double digits before Slade got the visitors on the board with three points of his own.

Coach Alex Sanderson's side looked confident early on but paid for their complacency just prior to the break as the Chiefs succeeded in carving open Sale's defence thanks to Tom O'Flaherty's lightning feet.

Hogg marked his return to the team with a wizened assist to Slade mid-fall, and the England playmaker couldn't miss the conversion to pull his side level 10-10 at the break.

He picked up that pace and powered a long-range penalty over to put Exeter in front for the first time after the restart.

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Van Rensburg's dismissal for a high tackle on Harvey Skinner with no wrap shortly after made Sale's job all the more difficult.

Slade punished Sale almost immediately with his second try of the day, and lock Will Witty wasn't far behind with another after charging down Du Preez's chip attempt to dribble 20 metres to score unopposed.

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Canada-born Ewan Ashman showed terrific balance to score his first Premiership try for Sale with 10 minutes to go, but that was where the Sharks' appetite for the comeback ended.

Sanderson's men were missing injured Manu Tuilagi's complementary steel in midfield following his recent call into Eddie Jones' England training camp, while Ben Curry's absence was also felt in the pack.

Exeter will consider the result a weight off their minds after a tough start to the campaign, and coach Rob Baxter will now look for a first home win of the season when they host Worcester Warriors next Saturday.

Chiefs climb two places to 11th in the standings following a much-needed result, leaving Bath and London Irish as the only teams still yet to win this term.

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