Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond has no doubt that Exeter are now too far in front to catch.

The Chiefs top the Gallagher Premiership standings and opened up a 14-point advantage over Sale, now fourth, with a 32-22 win at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The Chiefs trailed 17-10 early in the second half but turned the game on its head with three tries in a devastating 13-minute spell through Jacques Vermeulen, Stuart Hogg and Luke Cowan-Dickie to secure a second consecutive bonus-point win since the resumption.

“They’re a good side,” Diamond said. “They don’t panic, they get into the right areas and play.”

Exeter’s victory avenged a 22-19 defeat at Sandy Park in January and demonstrated the ground that the Sharks, champions 14 years ago, still have to make up if they are to be considered genuine contenders once more.

It was a first home defeat since the opening round against Gloucester 10 months ago for Sale.

Diamond had demanded a more disciplined effort from his team following a disappointing 16-10 defeat by Harlequins at the Stoop but their old failings were all too apparent.

They made a dream start with two early tries from Tom Curry and Rob Du Preez but they conceded 23 penalties as they fell away badly in the second half and needed a late try from Denny Solomona to add a touch of respectability to the final scoreline.

“I thought we were in the game first half,” Diamond said. “It was crucial not getting anything just before half-time when we lost a line-out five metres out, something that Exeter don’t do.

“I’m disappointed with our discipline again. The interpretations are difficult getting used to. There were examples tonight of us getting penalised for what was said we were allowed to do.”

Sale will seek to halt their losing run when they go to Wasps on Tuesday.