Leicester Tigers vs Sale Sharks 22/23 Report – 8th Oct 22

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16 Leicester Tigers
26 Sale Sharks

Sat 08 Oct 3:00pm Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium Attendance: 0

Leicester Tigers vs Sale Sharks

#YourSharks continue their unbeaten run and make it six wins in six games so far this season with a rare victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

Sale played with invention in attack and grit in defence, as Leicester’s faltering defence of their crown saw a third defeat inflicted this term in just five games – one short of their entire haul last term.

Their 2021/22 final hero Freddie Burns hit a hat-trick of first-half penalties and Jasper Wiese’s try established a four-point lead at the break as Sale struck through Tome Roebuck and Robert du Preez.

Raffi Quirke’s half-time introduction proved key as he provided the assist for Tom Curry and then ran home the bonus-point sealing score to establish an advantage Sale would see comfortably through to the final whistle.

It was a damaging defeat for Borthwick’s squad that had gained a shot in the arm from the returning Wiese and Julian Montoya. The fundamentals that were the foundations of last season’s glorious run to Twickenham were in short supply. Sale looked every inch the side to finally deliver on their heavy squad investment and fight for their first league title since 2006.

Tigers had started the game on top. Burns opened the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty after Harry Potter’s marauding break through a midfield gap threatened a bigger reward. Sale proved more clinical with their next entry into the 22, operating with penalty advantage, Gus Warr dangled a pass out in front of Tom Roebuck to bundle through a meagre double-team of Burns and Freddie Steward and cross. Robert du Preez’s failure to convert was compounded when Burns confidently landed two more penalties.

Further points were turned down in favour of a kick to the corner only for the lineout to be poached, but the tide was turning in favour of the men in green. Returning a kick from half-way, Jimmy Gopperth assessed his options before releasing Potter on a gliding, tip-toeing run down the left wing, attracting the attention of Manu Tuilagi with a shuddering covering tackle. There were teammates on hand to blitz the ruck and Wiese smashed his way over in the left corner.

Sale were given a route back into the game when Hanro Liebenberg fumbled the resulting kick off on his own 22. Warr broke blind from a solid scrum, feeding his half-back partner Rob du Preez to dummy deliciously before straightening and riding a despairing attempt on the goalline. The conversion of his own try brought Sale within four points at the break.

Errors that plagued Leicester’s first-half crept into the second as king of the airwaves Steward lost one in the low Leicestershire sunshine while the lineout’s shortfallings undermined the upper hand that was being established in the scrum.

Struggling to exit their own half and build pressure, Tigers looked vulnerable to a killer blow as Tuilagi found space and smashed over Richard Wigglesworth’s speed bump tackle attempt before George Martin arrived with a sledgehammer shot. But back Sale came as replacement Quirke attacked the fringes of a breakdown and found space, offloading deftly out of the tackle for Curry to juggle and pull in on his unstoppable route to the line.

More was to follow as Steward’s chase of a kick ahead collided with the broad shoulders of Akker van der Merwe. Joe Carpenter licked his lips running through unguarded territory and freeing Quirke to finish. Robert du Preez’s conversion established a 10-point lead that would’ve increased further if Steward hadn’t managed to chase down Tom O’Flaherty on his seemingly ominous arching break.

Having delivered an inch-perfect 50:22, he then dinked ahead and hacked on and Matt Scott grabbed around his ankles only for Quirke to somehow stop the Scottish centre just short. Sale regrouped and repelled Nemani Nadolo who lost control reaching for glory.

Sale showed a willingness to play from all areas, and it nearly shot them in the foot when O’Flaherty was caught isolated metres from his own line. But the winger was bailed out by his forwards who drove Tigers back and Jack van Poortvliet’s grubber into the corner was a desperate act to breach a wall of maroon-shirted defensive machines.

LEICESTER TIGERS: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Richard Wigglesworth; 1 James Cronin, 2 Julián Montoya, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Calum Green, 6 George Martin, 7 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 8 Jasper Wiese

Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Phil Cokanasiga, 23 Anthony Watson

SALE SHARKS: 15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Manu Tuilagi, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Jonny Hill, 6. Jono Ross, 7. Tom Curry (C), 8. Jean-Luc du Preez

Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Josh Beaumont, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. Sam Hill, 23. Arron Reed

Previous meetings

H Tuesday
September 20th 2022

Salford City Stadium
Premiership Rugby Cup
Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers
H Sunday
January 30th 2022

AJ Bell Stadium
Gallagher Premiership
Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers
A Saturday
November 13th 2021

Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium
Premiership Rugby Cup
Leicester Tigers
Sale Sharks