Sale Sharks celebrate Alex Sanderson’s new deal with crucial Premiership win over Leicester Tigers

Planet Rugby
Sale Sharks scrum-half Gus Warr scoring a try.

Sale Sharks scrum-half Gus Warr scoring a try.

Sale Sharks continued their run of superb form in the Premiership as they beat Leicester Tigers 31-22 on Friday, picking up a try bonus-point to boot at home.

Gus Warr, Tommy Taylor, Sam James and Tom O’Flaherty crossed for tries as last season’s runners-up made it four straight maximums on the day director of rugby Alex Sanderson penned a new three-year contract.

Leicester held an early lead through a rare Dan Cole try and also crossed through Matt Scott in the first half, while England’s George Martin added a third with just four minutes remaining.

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The Sharks, who started the weekend in sixth place, travel to Saracens on the final day of the league season next weekend, almost certainly needing another win to stand a chance of a top-four finish. They move third but teams around them still need to play.

Leicester roared into an early lead at Salford Community Stadium as Cole crashed over the try-line to make it 5-0 but Sale turned it around in the 10th minute as Warr sniped across the line from a ruck five metres out before George Ford added the conversion.

The Tigers had Ollie Hassell-Collins in the sin bin a minute later following a TMO review before the referee brandished a yellow card after a high tackle on Manu Tuilagi.

Sale stretched their lead to nine in the 14th minute as Taylor strode across the try-line on his 150th Sharks appearance after a well-orchestrated lineout, before Ford added the conversion.

An opportunistic interception from Scott on halfway allowed him to run in for Leicester’s second try and Pollard’s conversion made the score 14-12 in the 18th minute.

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In the 35th minute the long-serving James, in his last home game before leaving his boyhood club this summer, got Sale’s third try following superb quick hands by Sharks down the blindside before Ford added the conversion to make it 21-12.

A penalty from the Tigers’ Jamie Shillcock on the stroke of half-time from just inside Sale’s half made it 21-15 but the hosts secured their try bonus-point five minutes after the break following sustained attacking pressure as O’Flaherty pounced on a James grubber kick.

Sale controlled the second-half proceedings, stretching their lead to 16 points just before the hour with a Ford penalty.

Charlie Clare received Leicester’s second yellow as panic took hold of the Tigers defence in the 67th minute after an impressive length-of-the-field counter-attack led by Tuilagi in his final action on home soil for Sale.

Martin scored Leicester’s third try in the 75th minute and Shillcock converted from a tight angle, a consolation for the visitors as Sale saw the game out on a scoreline of 31-22.

The impressive victory sets up a final-game showdown between Sale and Saracens for a Premiership play-off spot.

The teams

Sale Sharks: 15 Sam James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Rob du Preez, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 George Ford, 9 Gus Warr, 8 Jean-Luc du Preez, 7 Sam Dugdale, 6 Ben Curry (c), 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 James Harper, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Si McIntyre, 18 WillGriff John, 19 Ben Bamber, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Raffi Quirke, 22 Rekeiti Ma’asi White, 23 Arron Reed

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Jamie Shillcock, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 5 Harry Wells, 4 George Martin, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Charlie Clare, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 James Whitcombe, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Finn Carnduff, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Phil Cokanasiga, 23 Solomone Kata

Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace, Jamie Leahy
TMO: Ian Tempest

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