A brilliant display of running rugby helped Leicester to an impressive 54-21 win over a struggling Sale outfit at Welford Road.
A brilliant display of running rugby helped Leicester to an impressive 54-21 victory over Sale at Welford Road.
The Tigers, who were without the services of England half-backs Toby Flood and Ben Youngs and influential forwards Tom Croft and Jordan Crane, ran in 21 points in the opening 13 minutes to leave the visitors reeling.
Leicester racked up eight tries in the match with two each for Manu Tuilagi and Scott Hamilton.
It was a nightmare start for Sale's new coaching team led by former captain Pete Anglesea, who replaced Mike Brewer who was sacked just before Christmas.
Leicester were ahead after only four minutes.
Sale lost possession in their own half, with the Tigers counter-attacking swiftly through Geordan Murphy.
The full-back took the Tigers into the opposition 22, where the pressure continued for Jeremy Staunton to send Anthony Allen over for a try which Staunton converted.
Within two minutes the Sharks were further behind when some intricate passing from the Tigers was finished off by Alesana Tuilagi, who drove powerfully for the line. Staunton again added a conversion.
The hosts had a third try in the 13th minute as Staunton decided against kicking a simple penalty in front of the posts in favour of taking a quick tap and it paid off as Rob Hawkins was able to force his way over in the corner.
Staunton converted with a magnificent kick from the touchline.
At that stage the Sharks were in real danger of being completely overrun but slowly they began to get a foothold in the match.
They gained a position in the home 22 and from a five-metre scrum Asaeli Boko drove powerfully for a score which Nick Macleod converted.
But Leicester picked up their fourth try three minutes before half-time as Manu Tuilagi was left with an unopposed 20-metre run to the line. Staunton converted to give Tigers a 28-7 interval lead.
The Tigers began the second half as quickly as the first with Murphy sending Hamilton over within two minutes of the restart with Staunton once again converting.
Six minutes later the Tigers extended the lead when Manu Tuilagi brushed aside some poor tackling to run 30 metres for the try with Staunton making it six from six with the conversion.
At 42-7 with more than 30 minutes to go Sale were staring at a record defeat but they battled back to score an excellent try thanks to their best move of the match.
Mark Cueto carried the ball before Dwayne Peel beat three defenders for the try which Macleod converted.
Back came the Tigers with a second try for Hamilton and the wing was also heavily involved in Leicester's eighth from Matt Smith which brought up the Tigers' 50. Staunton converted to bring his match tally to 14 points.
With the last play of the match Kristian Ormsby picked up a late score for the Sharks with Macleod adding the conversion, but it could not disguise the Tigers' dominance.
Tries: Allen, A Tuilagi 2, Hawkins, M Tuilagi, Hamilton 2, Smith
Cons: Staunton 7
Tries: Boko, Peel, Ormsby
Cons: Macleod 3
Leicester: 15 Geordan Murphy (capt), 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Jeremy Staunton, 9 James Grindal; 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Craig Newby, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Ed Slater, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Joe Duffey, 17 Peter Bucknall, 18 Julian White, 19 Calum Green, 20 Dan Hemingway, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.
Sale: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Ben Cohen, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Chris Brightwell, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Asaeli Boko, 5 Kristian Ormsby, 4 Chris Jones, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Lee Imiolek.
Replacements: 16 Ben Roberts, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Neil McMillan, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Chris Bell.
Referee: Dean Richards