Sale 40 – 5 Leicester
Sale bounced back in fine style following their surprise loss at Newcastle last time out, keeping the pressure firmly on Gallagher Premiership leaders Saracens; Leicester could now drop from fourth in the table after a first defeat under interim head coach Richard Wigglesworth
Last Updated: 30/12/22 10:13pm
Impressive Sale beat Leicester 40-5 as interim head coach Richard Wigglesworth suffered his first defeat since taking over from Steve Borthwick.
The Sharks bounced back in fine style following their surprise loss at Newcastle last time out, keeping the pressure firmly on Gallagher Premiership leaders Saracens.
An eye-catching victory was secured thanks to a combination of enterprising forward play and a water-tight defence.
Defences were on top in the early stages of former scrum-half Wigglesworth’s return to Sale.
The Sharks’ rear-guard 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 Robert 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 scored a try five minutes before the break, when Tom 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.
Handre 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.
Seven minutes later it was 23-5 after Simon 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 Ewan 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.