SALE Sharks’ director of rugby Alex Sanderson claimed the “shackles were off” after they produced an excellent display to defeat the Ospreys 49-10 on Sunday.

With their last-16 place already assured, the Sharks played with freedom and touched down seven times in the Champions Cup victory.

Tom Roebuck scored two of them while Arron Reed, Ewan Ashman, Dan Du Preez, Curtis Langdon and Jack Metcalf also crossed the whitewash.

“We seemed to take the shackles off,” Sanderson said. “We’ve had a real big focus on staying stronger for longer and pushing that intensity in the second half.

“I felt we saw that, although it’s easy when you’ve got Tom Curry coming off the bench!”

The Sharks are not one of the favourites for the competition but, with the quality they have in their squad, Sanderson has set ambitious targets.

“It’s a stepping stone but the obvious goal is Marseille,” he said. “I do (think we can reach the final), particularly on the back of that performance. It’s about getting your players back, having them in fine fettle and motivated, and having them in that kind of form repeatedly, which leads you to there.

“But why not? On form, we’ve shown we can beat any side in the land.”

Sanderson also praised the efforts of England prop Bevan Rodd, whose brilliant run and pass set Reed up for Sale’s second try.

He said: “You miss that with Bev’s game but he has got that in him. You miss it because he’s a loosehead prop and he spends a lot of his energy in the mauls and scrums, but it’s his loose play which sets him apart.”

Rodd, alongside Tom Curry and Raffi Quirke, will head off to train with England ahead of the Six Nations.

England and Lions flanker Curry enjoyed his short stint on the field against a tiring Ospreys defence as Sale ended the Welsh region’s European aspirations.