The Wanderers suffered their first defeat of the A League season as Sale Jets dished out a 40-19 humbling at Heywood Road on Monday night.
Alex Day and two penalty tries got the Saints second string on the board but Sale simply had too much, running in five tries.
The heavy loss means the Wanderers, who remain at the top of the Northern Conference standings, will face a key clash with Gloucester at Franklin’s Gardens in three weeks’ time.
Both teams will be desperate for victory in that fixture as they aim to secure a spot in this season’s final-four shootout.
The Wanderers had hoped to book a home semi-final with a win at Sale and they made a good start as scrum-half Day dived over in the ninth minute.
But Chris Johnson replied with a drop goal for Sale, who scored a try soon after as centre Mark Jennings dotted down under the posts, with Nathan Fowles converting.
The Wanderers turned to the scrum to assert their power, pushing their way towards the line before being awarded a penalty try.
South African No.8 GJ van Velze, who had scored a hat-trick against Newcastle a week earlier, stepped up to drop goal the conversion to give his side a 12-10 lead.
Fowles landed a penalty to put Sale back in front and made another one from distance to make it 16-12.
The Wanderers were under pressure and, a minute before the break, Jennings grabbed his second score of the night, Fowles again converting.
Sale surged over the line four minutes after the restart as impressive No.9 Fowles found a gap to add a try to his good form with the boot.
The home side then found themselves a man light as Tom Sanders saw yellow for killing the ball and the Wanderers took advantage through another penalty try and Sam Olver’s conversion.
But that was to be the end of the comeback as the dangerous Fowles scored his second of the night and full-back Mike Haley got on the scoresheet with a minute to go.
Johnson converted to put the seal on a fine win for the Jets and leave the Wanderers with a job to do against Gloucester later this month.
Sale Jets: Haley; Ingall, Jennings, Bedlow, Jeffers; Johnson, Fowles; Flynn, Neild, Buckley, Holmes, Sanders, Gledhill, Craven, Hughes.
Replacements: Hymes, Parker, Longmore, Nott, Bishop, Mitchell, Hayes, O Donnell.
Wanderers: Diggin; Collins, Stephenson, Waldouck, Packman; Olver, A Day; E Waller, McMillan, Ma’afu, Woolford, Verbakel, Nutley, Harrison, van Velze.
Replacements: Williams, Warren, Parkins, Onojaife, Harry, Glynn, Hooley, Artemyev.