SALE Sharks 59 La Vila 6 Sale Sharks returned to winning ways against the champions of Spain last Friday at Edgeley Park.

It’s always difficult to assess the merit of putting 50 plus points past unfamiliar opponents, but La Vila were competitive, and better than Cetransa El Salvador, who shipped 97 points last season.

Although the over-anxious Sharks made errors as they were eager to please, by the time the game had settled, fitness and technique came to the fore.

Miller, Addison, Willis, Burrell and Higgins all injected pace into the Sharks’ attacks and they proved too strong for a willing La Vila side.

Sharks took the lead via a 16th minute penalty try when the home scrum, with Powell skippering at number eight, were too strong an outfit.

La Vila had lost fly half McCashin to the sinbin a minute before and, while he was absent, the Sharks’ skipper crashed over for his first try for his new club.

Higgins added another try after 28 minutes, setting up a 19-0 lead, but the returned McCashin sent over two penalties within a two minute spell near the end of the first half to keep La Vila in the game.

The Sharks raided with pace, and turned the screw after the break, notching forty points within 32 minutes. Centre Leota grabbed the bonus point try after 48 minutes, and was followed by Burrell, Willis and Vernon at regular intervals during the second period.

Two more tries by Leota in the final two minutes gave him a hat trick. Miller chipped in with seven conversions.

Johnny Leota captured the Man-of-the-Match award, not only for his tries, but for his lively play and solid defending.

Sharks were able to rest several players for the trials ahead, which start with the visit of Exeter Chiefs next Friday (7.45 pm).

The Sandy Park side completed a double over the Sharks last season.