Exeter Chiefs slumped to a dismal 41-5 defeat at Sale in the rugby Premiership, a result that sees Rob Baxter’s side fall away from the leading pack.

Tom Roebuck scored a hat-trick for the dominant hosts, as the Chiefs failed to impose their game on Sale, who are now just three points behind the Chiefs. Northampton Saints remain five points clear at the top.

Roebuck started the fun with an early try and George Ford slotted a penalty for the hosts, a pattern that became a frustrating theme for the Chiefs. Poor discipline handed Sale seven penalties in the opening half-hour and Exeter also conceded a try to former Sandy Park hero Luke Cowan-Dickie.

A sin bin for Josh Hodge hardly improved the Exeter mood, as Roebuck dotted down for his second try just before half-time. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso finished off a flowing move for the Chiefs in their only score of the day, as Sale cruised through the second period.

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon: "If we look at ourselves, we never really imposed any kind of a game plan on them.

"The first half was one of the most disappointing I've probably watched from this group because I know we're better than that. But we couldn't impose ourselves or our gameplan on the game at all.

"We weren't where we quite needed to be physically, gain line first half was tough for us, but actually our individual discipline was probably the thing that bothered me the most because there's some silly penalties in there."

The Chiefs will need to be a lot better when they welcome Bath to Sandy Park for the Investec Champions Cup on Saturday.