Few who have witnessed the transformation in Sale's approach, and the rise in skill levels since Mitchell's arrival, will doubt that they can achieve their objective. Whether Sale can go further this season rests upon their ability to pass much sterner tests than Orrell could provide.
To describe either of the two games at Edgehall Road, in League One eight days previously, or Saturday's sixth-round Pilkington Cup tie, as a contest, would be a misnomer. In the league, Sale ran in eight tries. On Saturday they were without Mitchell, but it was only a matter of time before Sale made their superiority count. Tom Beim and John Fowler each scored cracking tries in the first half, and Sale produced seven minutes of electrifying rugby at the start of the second to run Orrell off their feet.
John Devereux was impressive throughout, his linking and penetrative running instrumental in bringing tries for Dewi Morris and Jim Mallinder before Beim completed his hat-trick. Afterwards, Devereux declared himself unsure of his future: "I'm still contracted to Widnes RL Club and on loan to Sale," he said. "It's entirely up to Widnes if I stay at Sale."
Devereux's best wasn't finished until Dylan O'Grady and Steve Diamond had scored tries and Simon Mannix had drilled over his seventh conversion. Poor Orrell. Out of the Cup, they don't even have the consolation of the League to concentrate on.
Sale: Tries Beim 3, Fowler, Morris, Mallinder, O'Grady, Diamond; Conversions Mannix; Penalty Mannix.
Orrell: S Taberner; J Naylor (R Saverimutto, 53), D Lyon (capt, P Hamer 51), L Tuigamala, R Hitchmough; M McCarthy, S Cook; M Worsley, A Moffatt (M Scott, 23), S Turner, C Cusani, P Rees, J Huxley, P Angelsea, P Nelson (C Brierley, 54).
Sale: J Mallinder (capt); D Rees, J Baxendell (A Hadley, 55), J Devereux, T Beim; S Mannix, D Morris (J O'Reilly, 60); P Winstanley, S Diamond, A Smith (A Yates, 72), D Baldwin, J Fowler, N Ashurst, D O'Grady (D Erskine, 72), C Vyvyan.
Referee: S Lander (Irby, Wirrall).