Josh Beaumont crashed over in the second half to settle a tight affair as Sale Sharks beat Leicester Tigers at Welford Road for the first time in eight years.
In truth Sale could have won by a bigger margin if not for Danny Cipriani’s miscues from the tee, missing five from six penalties amid blustery conditions.
A penalty apiece from Cipriani and Freddie Burns were the only scores until the 61st minute, as Sale finally turned the screw through captain Beaumont.
Cipriani – who was his usual effervescent self in open play – converted and despite a barrage of late Leicester pressure, the hosts’ 100 per cent record at home in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season came to an end.
Sale had not won on the road in the league this year, but Tigers suffered two late blows ahead of the match when
Telusa Veainu and Tom Youngs dropped out of the starting XV – to be replaced by Gonzalo Camacho and Leonardo Ghiraldini respectively.
And it was the visitors who started with their tails up, ramping up the pressure early on and forcing Tigers into an infringement in the ruck.
Cipriani’s penalty attempt slid wide of the posts but back came Sale, and a superb tackle from Sam Harrison stopped a rampaging Sam James in his tracks.
When Tigers went off their feet in the 11th minute, Cipriani put Sharks on the board – but for however well the England fly-half was playing, his kicking continued to go awry.
He missed two further attempts from the tee in the 23rd and 25th minutes as Tigers continued to come off second best in the breakdown.
Tigers finally started to gather some momentum on the half-hour and Ciprani’s failed interception saw Burns level the scores.
That seemed to give Leicester the spur they needed though – in albeit tricky conditions – it was not turning out to be a day for the kickers as Burns could not capitalise on a Sharks indiscretion.
Cipriani had one final shot at goal before the half was out but from just over halfway, his kick went astray and both teams went in finely poised at 3-3.
Burns got another crack early on shortly after the resumption when Sale were pinged at their own driving maul – but the width of the post thwarted him.
With neither team making sufficient inroads with ball in hand there was no other choice but to kick when the opportunity presented itself, though things were still not going Cipriani’s way.
His next miss arrived on the 55th minute but at the next opportunity Cipriani sent a great kick to the corner to bring up a five-metre lineout for Sharks.
Sale’s surge from the driving maul was unstoppable and No.8 Beaumont, who was called up to England’s elite player squad for the first time last month, was the one to emerge from the pile of bodies.
Cipriani kicked through the conversion to send Sale seven points clear heading into the final quarter – though things weren’t over yet.
Mathew Tait came to life with a superb break and though Matt Smith could not quite gather in the final pass, the pair continued to look lively.
Indeed Leicester were not about to lie down and the forwards burrowed their way into Sale’s 22 and proceeded to pin them back.
However, brave Sale defence and clearance kicks from Peter Stringer and Cipriani alleviated the pressure – and handed the visitors a famous win.