Cipriani magic floors Leicester

Date published: March 27 2016

A late try from Danny Cipriani helped Sale get the better of Leicester 27-20 on Sunday, keeping alive their hopes of making the play-offs.

Three tries punctuated what was an incredibly exciting opening 40 minutes. The hosts grabbed the first two, one from Cameron Nield which preceded a remarkable second from Nev Edwards.

The visitors gave themselves hope at the end of the first half, Tommy Bell scoring for a 17-13 half-time scoreline.

The second half was equally captivating, but in a rather different sense. The players were sent from the pitch in the 54th minute due to the presence of lightning in the area surrounding the AJ Bell Stadium.

After this break in play Vereniki Goneva pulled Leicester level with a try. However, it was Cipriani who decided the match in typical fashion with a magical finish to secure a 27-20 victory for the hosts.

The win means that Sale remain unbeaten at home this season, they rise above Gloucester into seventh with the victory. Meanwhile, Leicester stay in fourth place with rivals Northampton four points behind with a game in hand.

The home side had a player in the sin-bin in the ninth minute, Tommy Taylor shown a yellow card for entering a maul at the side with Leicester just metres from the try-line. Despite having a man down, the Sharks rallied in the second half of the sin-bin period and scored a try just after in the 23rd minute. Nield was the man to cross for Sale, surging over the line from five metres out. Cipriani converted to give Sale a 10-3 lead.

Sale followed up with one of the more remarkable tries of the season in the 30th minute. The ball kicked out for touch by hosts looked to have gone out of play, however, the touch judge did not give it and Sale drove into the Leicester half. The ball went on find Edwards who scored under the posts. The TMO deemed the ball to have stayed in touch and the try was awarded. Cipriani converted once more to give Sale a 17-6 lead.

Leicester cut the deficit to four points with a try in the 39th minute. Tigers found space out wide for Manu Tuilagi to run into, Cipriani forced the big man down but his offload found Bell out on the wing who scored in the corner. Williams converted to draw a scintillating first half to a close at 17-13.

Laurence Pearce was sent to the sin-bin for Leicester in the 43rd minute and Cipriani scored the resultant penalty for a seven-point lead. 

Remarkably, referee Tom Foley took the players off the pitch in the 54th minute due to the presence of lightening in the local area. Play resumed after 11 minutes and Tigers' Goneva powered over the line under pressure for a try in the 62nd minute. Williams added the conversion to draw the sides level at 20-20.

A moment of individual brilliance restored Sale's lead in the 70th minute. Cipriani beat four defenders on his own before crossing the whitewash in the corner. He converted for good measure to make the score 27-20 and this was how it finished.

The scorers:

For Sale:
Tries: Neild, Edwards, Cipriani
Con: Cipriani 3
Pen: Cipriani 2

For Leicester:
Tries: Bell, Goneva
Con: Williams 2
Pen: Burns, Williams

Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Nev Edwards, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Magnus Lund, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mark Jennings

Leicester: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Mathew Tait, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Williams, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane (c), 7 Tom Croft, 6 Laurence Pearce, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Sebastian de Chaves, 20 Opeti Fonua, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Peter Betham, 23 Telusa Veainu

Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant Referees: Andy Watson, Kelvin Stewart
TMO: Stuart Terheege