Leicester were soon making metres and a move started by fly half Owen Williams ended with Ed Slater scoring a try by the posts. Williams converted and Tigers led 7-0 after just 3 minutes.
Sale attempted to settle things down but Tigers went out on a full offensive roared on by a full house. Tigers went 10-0 in front on 11 minutes when Williams struck a penalty between the sticks from 20 metres out in front of the posts.
Sharks made inroads into the Tigers defence when Fahiki fed Peel from the back of the scrum and Peel found Ingall who made valuable metres before being tackled.
On 20 minutes Sale were down to 14 after Sammy Tuitupou was sin binned after exchanging punches with Williams. Tigers immediately took advantage of the extra man as Thompstone dived in at the corner despite a valiant effort from Ingall to stop him. Referee Carley went to the TMO for a second opinion and the try was awarded. Williams converted from the touchline to give Tigers a 17-0 lead on 23 minutes.
Sale finally got on the scoreboard on 25 minutes when they were awarded a penalty 15 metres out in front of the posts. Macleod's kick was accurate. 17-3
Rob Miller saved a try with a great one on one tackle on Thompstone as Sale were forced into rear guard action missing Sammy Tuitupou who watched from the sidelines.
On 35 minutes Sale were penalised for not rolling away and fly half Williams opted to kick for goal. His kick was perfect and Tigers had a 20-3 lead.
Sale then put in their best moves of the half winning three penalties in quick succession on the Tigers line but eventually they turned the ball over much to the delight of the home crowd.
On the stroke of half time referee Carley awarded a penalty on the 22 metre line to Sale and Macleod lined up the kick at goal. His kick was perfect and the players left the field with a half time score of
HT Leicester Tigers 20 Sale Sharks 6
Williams started the second half and Dan Cole made a terrific run through the Sharks defence before being tackled. Tigers then put pressure on the Sharks scrum and won a penalty which Williams kicked without any problem 23-6. Sharks won a penalty themselves just inside the Tigers half and called up Rob Miller to have a go with a long range effort. Sadly his quick was wide of the posts and Tigers cleared their lines.
Sale came back hard and after some great recycling and passing Mark Cueto went over for a try and with Nick Macleod's conversion the gap narrowed to 23-13. Before the restart Steve Diamond replaced his full front row and also brought on David Seymour for Dan Braid.
Tigers went after more tries with two penalties in the Sharks 22 but on both occasions the Sharks defence held firm and came away with the ball.
On 60 minutes Charlie Ingall silenced the home crowd with a great try in the corner after a good break by James Gaskell. Macleod converted 23-20. You could have heard a pin drop as the ball went over the posts.
Tigers then mounted a series of challenges and won three five metre scrums on the Sharks line. The crowd were becoming agitated with their heroes. Referee Carley warned the Sharks pack about their behaviour at the scrum and the Sharks fans feared a penalty try decision. After six scrums referee Carley gave the dreaded hand signal and awarded the Tigers a penalty try. Williams converted and Sharks trailed 30-20 with five minutes left.
Sharks still had an eye on salvaging something from the game and won a penalty 40metres. Joe Ford an earlier replacement for Nick Macleod took his time and then slotted home the perfect penalty 30-23. Silence for kickers at Welford Road however was not observed for Ford's kick but it didn't matter anyway.
Tigers tried to get the fourth try but the Sharks defence held firm and they won and deserved a losing bonus point for their efforts.
FT Leicester Tigers 30 Sale Sharks 23
Rob Miller, Charlie Ingall, Mark Cueto, Sammy Tuitupou, Tom Brady, Nick Macleod, Dwayne Peel (off 70mins), Eifion Lewis Roberts (off 50mins), Marc Jones (off 50mins), Vadim Cobilas (off 50mins), Andrei Ostrikov, Michael Paterson, James Gaskell, Dan Braid (capt; off 50mins), Viliami Fahiki
Replacements: Tommy Taylor (on for Jones 50mins), Ross Harrison (on for Roberts 50mins), Henry Thomas (on for Cobilas 50mins), Jonathan Mills (on for Ostrikov 60mins), David Seymour (on for Braid 50mins), Will Cliff (on for Peel 70mins), Joe Ford (on for Macleod 60mins), Andy Forsyth
Scoring Sequence (Tigers first): 5-0, 7-0, 10-0, 15-0, 17-0, 17-3, 20-3, 20-6 (Half Time) 23-6, 23-11, 23-13, 23-18, 23-20, 28-20, 30-20, 30-23
|Leicester Tigers Score Card|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|