Sale 8-20 Leicester Tigers, Aviva Premiership
Tigers pile misery on winless Sale
October 5, 2012
Leicester came away from Sale with the win%]
Ben Youngs' second-half try along with the boot of George Ford was enough to give Leicester a 20-8 win over Sale Sharks at the Salford City Stadium on Friday.
It was Sale who dominated the first half despite holding just an 8-6 lead through Rob Miller's unconverted try and a Nick Macleod penalty. Leicester's Ford, deputising for Toby Flood, responded with two three-pointers in what was initially a disappointing team display. But they were revitalised in the second period and scored 14 unanswered points through the boot of Ford and a try from Youngs.
Sale's mercurial fly-half Danny Cipriani had to pull out from the substitutes' bench late on due to flu but the player who has been preferred to him in recent weeks, Macleod, started the match impressively by controlling proceedings and allowing the hosts to get on top early in the encounter.
They deservedly went ahead through a well-worked try. No.8 Andy Powell had already threatened before Will Addison took advantage of disorganisation in the visitors' defensive line with a quick throw-in.
It was collected by Mark Cueto who took the ball into contact before it was shipped out to Miller, who scampered over in the corner. Despite being dominated for the opening 10 minutes, the Tigers eventually ground their way into the match and Ford rewarded their brief period of possession with a penalty.
However, Macleod responded for the Manchester outfit with a three-pointer of his own four minutes later to give them an 8-3 lead. Ford once again reduced the arrears to two points but it was an impressive first half from Bryan Redpath's much-maligned charges.
The pressure certainly got to Leicester's Vereniki Goneva, who deliberately knocked on Cillian Willis' attempted pass to Addison and was subsequently sin-binned. But the hosts have struggled to take the chances that have presented themselves throughout this season, as well as showing an inability to control the forward battle for long enough periods.
That issue once again came back to haunt the Sharks when Addison was unable to touch down after they were camped on the Tigers' line. Although the visitors produced the odd burst through the ever-dangerous centre duo of Anthony Allen and Manu Tuilagi, it was Sale who deservedly had the advantage at the break.
However, the Midlands outfit came out with far more intent in the second period and went ahead through the fly-half's third from the tee. Leicester then stretched their lead when Youngs went over and Ford kicked his fourth penalty.
It was perhaps harsh on the hosts, but it was typically clinical by last year's beaten finalists. The Sharks continued to battle away, though, and threatened through breaks from Miller and substitute half-back Nathan Fowles. But it was not to be as Ford sealed the victory with a three-pointer after Joe Ward had been yellow-carded for Sale.
"Sale played really well and we dealt with that pressure. Our commitment was good defensively and was as good as we've been for a long time," said Tigers boss Richard Cockerill. "Our discipline to stay onside and roll away, and to deal with all those things was very good. It probably just got us enough ahead to win it."
Despite seeing his side slip to their sixth straight defeat, Sale boss Bryan Redpath pointed to the positives: "I'm a lot happier," he said. "There were just a couple of crucial passes again that didn't happen. We needed to get that try just before half-time and build a little bit of a cushion.
"We knew they had a strong bench and we knew we would be under the cosh a little bit in the second half. We just had a bad start to the second and never really recovered. George Ford for them just kept kicking them into positions and that made it harder.
"When we raised the tempo of the game, we looked pretty dangerous but, against Leicester, you have to maintain it and we didn't."
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