Sale Sharks skipper Jason Robinson raced 60 metres to notch his side’s second try and finally condemn mighty Munster to a pointless trip across the Irish Sea to Edgeley Road in a fire-cracker opening to Pool 1.

A record crowd of 10,641 at the home of last season’s European Challenge Cup winners witnessed a closely fought first-half in which the boots of British & Irish Lions outside half team mates Charlie Hodgson and Ronan O’Gara dominated proceedings.

Hodgson’s territorial game looked to be giving the Sharks the extra edge, but the Irishmen battled back to lead 10-9 at the break.

Three Hodgson penalties accounted for the Sharks’ points, while one from O’Gara was followed by a driving line-out try by Frank Sheahan while the home side’s Argentinian international lock Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe was in the sin-bin. O’Gara added the conversion.

Even though Munster led at half-time, the Sharks had had the majority of the territory and the impact of their French No 8 Sebastien Chabal and prop Andrew Sheridan were already making major dents.

By the end of the game Chabal had made such an impact he had not only picked up the Heineken Man of the Match award from Sky Sports summariser Stuart Barnes, but he had sent the Italian prop Federico Pucciariello into orbit with the tackle of the night that set up Robinson’s kick and chase score.

While that try sealed the game, and ensured Munster didn’t pick up a bonus point, it was the 10 points the home side picked up while Munster hooker Sheahan was in the sin-bin after 50 minutes that really turned the fortunes.

No sooner had Sheahan departed than the Sharks followed the Munster lead by driving a close range line-out and hunting a try. But somehow the visitors kept them out and then turned the Sharks’ sacrum to claim their own put in five metres out.

They struck the ball well enough, but Anthony Foley couldn’t control at No8 and scrum half Tomas O’Leary failed to touch down over his own line and could only watch in horror as his opposite number Sililo Martens followed up to bag a sucker try.

Hodgson added the conversion to his earlier penalty and the Sharks were in the driving seat.

As brave as Munster were in defence, they couldn’t match the power of Chabal and co in attack and when Pucciariello lost control of the ball in the tackle inside the Sharks’ half, Hodgson kicked long and Robinson easily won the chase for the decisive second try.