Leicester 54-21 Sale, Aviva Premiership, December 27
Free-flowing Tigers maul Sharks
December 27, 2010
Manu Tuilagi scored twice for Leicester
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Leicester romped to a 54-21 victory over Sale at Welford Road on Monday to move to within a point of Northampton at the summit of the Aviva Premiership.
It was a family affair for the Tuilagi boys as baby brother Manu stole the headlines with a powerful brace of tries for the Tigers while his brother Alesana rounded off their hat-trick with a first-half effort.
A third brother, Andy, started in the Sale midfield but despite a big individual display he was unable to stop Leicester bagging five further tries as Scott Hamilton scored twice to complement five-pointers from Rob Hawkins, Matt Smith and Anthony Allen.
Returning fly-half Jeremy Staunton was another standout and slotted seven of his eight conversion attempts to leave Sale with plenty to ponder after the midweek sacking of coach Mike Brewer. The new man in charge, Pete Anglesea, has much to work on before next week's meeting with Saracens as his side crumbled at the lineout and were an open door in defence but he will nevertheless have taken heart from a gutsy display that produced well-worked tries for Asaeli Boko, Dwayne Peel and Kris Ormsby.
Leicester washed away any thoughts of a swift turnaround in the Sharks' fortunes with a devastating blast of pace and power in the opening 13 minutes, during which time they ran three tries through a porous Sale line.
Allen began proceedings with a try after only four minutes to reward lively running by skipper Geordan Murphy and the immensely physical Manu Tuilagi. Mathew Tait was smashed in midfield to concede a turnover and from there the Tigers refused to let up, whipping the ball into midfield from a scrum where their tight offloading game allowed Allen to crash over from close range.
Sale stopped to catch their breath and were punished from the restart, the hugely influential Thomas Waldrom sparking a superb team try. The former Crusaders No.8 picked off a loose pass before the play was switched left to right, where he combined with Alesana Tuilagi and loose-head Marcos Ayerza to shred some woefully narrow defence from the Sharks. Waldrom's hurled pass put Tuilagi clear and the giant Samoan finished superbly despite a lunge from Boko.
Hawkins produced a similarly impressive dive for the corner to round off Leicester's third try on 13 minutes, the hooker profiting from quick hands across the backline and a favourable verdict from the TMO after the touch judge referred his lunge for the line.
Sale threatened the briefest of comebacks as Boko powered over the whitewash off the back of a solid scrum, but the visitors were unable to prevent Leicester from wrapping up a bonus-point before the break. It was another picturesque try from the home side, who swept the ball across the backline before going for the jugular in spectacular style. Manu Tuilagi popped up twice on his way to the tryline, first providing impetus with a midfield surge and later arriving on the wing to round off the score once the Sale line had been dog-legged by the sheer weight of numbers flooding their midfield.
The teams changed ends at the break but Leicester picked up where they left off and notched twice in the opening 10 minutes of the second-half. A majestic dummy from Murphy sent Hamilton hurtling towards the tryline on 42 minutes and the younger Tuilagi soon bagged his second to further rub salt into the wounds of the Sharks. His try featured a brace of hand-offs and a lightning shift of the ball from his left to right hand but worryingly for Sale he breezed through tackles from Boko and fullback Paul Williams to cross.
Tuilagi levelled Mark Cueto, playing his 150th game for Sale, soon after but there was fight left in the visitors as they struck for a superb try born from the imagination of Peel. The Welsh scrum-half whipped the ball away from the converging home defence to put Tuilagi into space, the Samoan centre releasing Cueto on a stepping run upfield. His surge drew a penalty and in classic style Peel tapped, dummied, stepped and dived over to score.
Nick Macleod converted but Sale were again stung from the kick-off, when turnover ball resulted in an arching pass to the wing where Hamilton plucked the ball from the air and crossed for his second. A section of the Tigers faithful celebrated by dousing the Kiwi in beer and there were soon more beverages hurled onto the pitch as replacement Smith scored the Tigers' eighth on 65 minutes. Hamilton turned provider on this occasion with a well weighted pass taking the last Sale defender out of the game and allowing Smith a simple finish out wide.
Leicester pressed for another score in the dying minute but were hit on the break once a scrum close to the Sale line had resulted in a penalty against Waldrom. Peel finished a lively individual display by breaking clear from deep, with neat interplay along the flank leaving Ormsby to barrel across the line despite the attentions of two tacklers.
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