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Match Report: Sale Sharks 34 Leicester Tigers 30

01 Oct 2016
Match Report: Sale Sharks 34 Leicester Tigers 30

Sale Sharks held on in a thriller to record a third successive victory against Leicester Tigers for the first time in 40 years.

Replacement prop Halani Aulika had a mixed bag of a game, but he scored what was to be the winning try before being yellow carded late in the second half to ensure nerves were shredded at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Peter Betham scored a try-double for Tigers before the break but Mike Phillips, Johnny Leota and Paolo Odogwu – allied to the cool kicking of Will Addison – saw Sale take a lead into the break.

And despite Adam Thompstone’s brilliant solo finish, Sharks had enough left in the tank at the end to get home.

Sale, usually such a dominant force at home, were looking to rekindle their form at the AJ Bell having lost three of their last five matches in front of their own fans.

And it all went to plan from the start as Sale capitalised from a miscued clearance kick by Telusa Veainu.

From the lineout deep in Tigers territory, Wales scrum-half Phillips eventually sniped his way over the try-line after a neat step and Addison added the extras.

Phillips followed that up by surging down the left before being brought to a stop though the Sale momentum was brought to a half in the tenth minute.

Thompstone, Brendon O’Connor and Betham combined wonderfully before the latter touched down in the right-hand corner. Owen Williams’ extra two brought parity.

But Betham was not done there by a long shot as, after taking on inside ball from O’Connor, he smashed through Sale and across the try-line three minutes after his first effort.

Williams was on target with the conversion again and his penalty soon opened up a ten-point gap for Leicester after the hosts were pinged for offside.

Addison responded with a three-pointer of his own before a superb lineout move saw Beaumont offload to the speedy Odogwu, who couldn’t be caught before he reached the whitewash.

On the half-hour Sale seized the lead back as Leota used all his bulk to smash through following a close-quarters ruck, with Addison nailing his third conversion from three.

Williams cut the deficit down to four points with another penalty, but Sale finished the half on the ascendancy and 24-20 to the good.

After some crunching forward carries opened the second half, Sharks replacement prop Aulika gave away a cheap penalty and Williams promptly cut the deficit down to one point.

However, after a huge amount of pressure while camped on the Leicester line, Aulika made amends and then some for that error as his pick-and-go finally breached the visitors.

Addison added the two and Leicester remained out of a converted try’s reach after a Williams penalty drifted ever so slightly wide.

A Williams grubber then put Sharks on the backfoot as they were forced to concede a five-metre lineout, and a big rolling maul went to the TMO for the try decision.

Tom Youngs was adjudged to have been held up, but Aulika was shown a yellow for going in at the side.

Then came Thompstone’s try and against 14 men or not it was a superb finish – the wing got the faintest of touches down on the right-hand corner while two bodies were draped on him. Williams then nailed a tricky conversion to make it a one-point game.

However, Leicester infringed at the ruck with five minutes to go and Addison’s penalty gave Sharks enough breathing space to edge a dramatic game.