Premiership: Sale Sharks hammer Leicester Tigers as they put 40 points on defending champions
Sale Sharks put in an impressive showing on home soil as they dominated Premiership champions Leicester Tigers in a 40-5 victory on Friday.
The bonus-point win saw Tom O’Flaherty, Simon McIntyre, Ewan Ashman and Rob du Preez cross the whitewash, which was added to by a penalty try.
Du Preez also kicked over two conversions and three penalties as Sale closed the gap, provisionally at least, on the Premiership pace-setters Saracens.
For Leicester, their only points came via Springboks fly-half Handre Pollard, whose first start for the club ended in a heavy defeat as Tigers stay fourth.
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An eye-catching victory was secured thanks to a combination of enterprising forward play and a water-tight defence from the north-west outfit.
Defences were on top in the early stages of former scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth’s return to Sale since taking over as Tigers’ interim head coach.
The Sharks’ rearguard were particularly steadfast as the current Premiership champions probed for an opening, applying plenty of pressure.
The hosts were forced to dig in hard to repel numerous Leicester mauls as the packed home crowd were gripped.
The first points of the contest were not registered until the 17th minute, and they came from the boot of Sale’s Du Preez following a high tackle.
Du Preez was deadly accurate from close in to secure a 3-0 advantage.
The Sharks continued to plug away, and after 25 minutes Du Preez notched another three-pointer from 25 metres after a set-piece.
Sale earned further reward after 32 minutes when Du Preez obliged with the boot again, stretching the advantage to nine points.
The hosts finally bagged a try five minutes before the break, when O’Flaherty dived over by the posts following a neat offload from Luke James, and Du Preez’s routine conversion meant Sale went in with a healthy 16-0 lead.
The intense physicality from both teams continued in the early exchanges of the second period before Sale gifted Leicester their first points in the 47th minute.
Pollard sauntered home after intercepting a loose pass, though the South African World Cup winner fired wayward with his conversion attempt.
It did not take long for Sale to respond.
🦈 Wow, a statement win for Sale Sharks over Leicester Tigers! #SALvLEI pic.twitter.com/RpbzNeOBb6
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) December 30, 2022
Seven minutes later it was 23-5 after McIntyre powered over from close range, with Du Preez coolly adding the extras.
As the hour mark passed, time was beginning to run out for the Tigers.
Wigglesworth’s side were back on the offensive, but again the Sharks’ back-line was rock solid.
When Sale registered a penalty try with 13 minutes to go Leicester’s game was all but up.
The visitors collapsed another maul from the now dominant hosts, with the lead extended to 30-5.
Replacement Ashman’s late pushover try, and Du Preez’s score out wide, capped a brilliant night for Sale as the defending champions spiralled to a crushing loss.
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