Pace and power were the two ingredients separating West and Sale in this entertaining, if flawed, Tetley's Bitter Cup quarter-final at Brierton Lane.
In scoring five tries to two, Sale were able to call on their reserves of these priceless constituents just when they needed them most and, on at least two occasions, when West and their supporters were preparing themselves for an upset.
West's director of rugby, Mike Brewer, who was obliged to play for all but the first eight minutes once Ivan Morgan was led away in a daze, has never made any secret of the fact that West's priority is promotion.
West might well bounce back to the top flight under the astute Brewer - especially as five of their remaining eight league games are at home - though the former All-Black knows that his limited squad will need strengthening if there are to stay up.
Even so, many of the planks are already in place. West have a solid front five, their line-out is healthy, Emmet Farrell is as good as full-back as there is in the Premiership, and they are well served at half-back by Steven Vile and Tu Nu'uani'itia.
Indeed the replacement of Nu'uani'itia after he had scored the opening try was a considerable blow to West's chances. Vile converted that score and kicked two penalties to give West a 13-0 lead. Once Simon Raiwalui and Tom Beim had crossed for Sale, West extended this to 21-12 early in the second half when Jamie Connolly cut Sale open, but last year's losing finalists responded brilliantly.
Dion O'Cuinneagain raced away from inside Sale's half to score at the post. In Sale's only convincing show of forward power, Graham Dawe was driven over for the next try and Jim Mallinder switched West's lights out with another high-speed effort from 60 metres. Simon Mannix provided his own electricity with four conversions and a penalty.
West Hartlepool Tries Connolly, Nu'uani'itia; Conversions Vile; Penalties Vile 3; Sale Tries Beim, Dawe, Mallinder, O'Cuinneagain, Raiwalui; Conversions Mannix 4; Penalties Mannix.
West Hartlepool: E Farrell; H Bishop, P Belgian, J Connolly, J Benson; S Vile, T Nu'uani'itia (capt, P Harvey, 29); S Sparks, A Peacock, P Beal, B Farner, M Giacheri, J Ponton, S Cassidy, I Morgan (M Brewer, 8).
Sale: J Mallinder (capt); D Rees (J Baxendale, 48), S Howarth, C Yates, T Beim; S Mannix, K Ellis (R Smith, 78); P Winstanley (M Driver, 78), G Dawe (S Diamond, 64), D Bell, C Murphy (D Baldwin, h-t), S Raiwalui, D Erskine, P Sanderson (D O'Grady, 64), D O'Cuinneagain.
Referee: C White (Cheltenham).Reuse content