ELLESMERE Port's dream of a first ever Cheshire Plate triumph were emphatically blown away during their semi-final clash with Sale at Heywood Park on Saturday.
Port had been hoping to book their third final appearance in five years but they were always second best against a side sitting top of South Lancs/Cheshire division Two with 16 wins from 17 matches.
Sale made a fast start to the match and took advantage of the strong wind to score within two minutes courtesy of a Matt Simpson try and conversion.
Port responded well and full back Paul Millington reacted to some sloppy play by Sale to intercept a pass on the halfway line before racing through to score. Dave Layder kicked the conversion to level the match at 7-7.
But the home side were in no mood to suffer a cup shock and five tries in fifteen minutes all but ended the tie as a contest, with Stuart Brown (2), Adam Richardson (2), and Chris Lillie all touching down to put Sale 40-7 ahead.
The shell shocked visitors continued to battle and used the strength of their pack to set up Steve Richards for an unconverted try to reduce the arrears.
However, Sale were producing some inspired rugby and a flowing move resulted in Andrew Nelson scoring a converted try to give them a 47-12 lead at half-time to all but book their place in the final.
Port have produced some stunning comebacks throughout the season but this time the match was already beyond them as they returned to the field and made a spirited effort in the second half.
The visitors were playing for pride and a further try from Millington gave them just rewards for a strong start to the half.
However, in the final twenty minutes of the match the home side took advantage of some weary Port legs to add six more tries and although Port scored their fourth try of the match in the final minute, it was the home side who go through to the final at Macclesfield's Priory Park ground.
Port return to league action on Saturday when they take on Marple. Kick-off 2.30pm.