Sale reasserted their title credentials with a hard-earned victory to leapfrog rivals Leicester and climb into second place in the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP.
The Sharks had lost their previous four outings in three different competitions at Edgeley Park, but tries from Mark Cueto and Mathew Tait helped to them establish a 17-0 lead after 30 minutes.
Leicester rallied strongly after the break and touched down through Aaron Mauger in the 47th minute but Sale held on after wing David Doherty was sin-binned in the final quarter and Rory Lamont added a third try shortly before the final whistle.
A 13-12 success at Wasps last weekend breathed new life into Sale’s GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP campaign after their most recent home defeat – a woeful 17-9 reverse against Worcester – and this latest victory was another massive fillip to Philippe Saint-Andre’s men.
Leicester missed the first opportunity to get points on the board when fly-half Derick Hougaard failed to convert a penalty from distance.
The pendulum quickly swung in Sale’s favour and they led in the 10th minute with a breakaway try from Cueto.
The former England wing seized on a mistake by Leicester full-back Geordan Murphy just inside his own half, collected possession and advanced forward at pace down the right flank.
His speed took him clear of Leicester’s backline and he raced 50 metres to touch down for a try converted by Luke McAlister.
Two minutes later, McAlister spurned the chance to put Sale further ahead when he drove a penalty wide of the posts, but the momentum remained with the home team.
Driven forward by a dominant pack, and with Charlie Hodgson pulling the strings at fly-half, the Sharks claimed their second try in the 18th minute.
Hodgson found Cueto with a neat short offload on the right side of the field, around 20 metres out, and although the winger’s progress was halted, Sale’s forwards showed formidable power to drive over the line and allow Tait to ground the ball.
McAlister again added the extras and then claimed a penalty to send Sale 17-0 ahead in the 29th minute before Leicester finally got off the mark with a penalty from Julien Dupuy five minutes later.
The visitors began to gain a foothold as the interval approached, forcing Sale back into their own half, but there was still time for McAlister to miss another penalty before the whistle.
Hodgson, despite his influence, was withdrawn after half-time after complaining of flu symptoms which had affected him in the build-up to the game.
He was replaced by Dwayne Peel, who went to scrum-half while Richard Wigglesworth deputised for Hodgson at 10.
Leicester, to their credit, came back strongly after the break and Mauger found the space to weave his way through a static Sale defence to touch down in the 47th minute.
Dupuy converted with precision to cut the gap to 10 points with over half an hour remaining but McAlister claimed his second penalty on the hour mark.
Sale were forced to dig deep when Doherty was shown a yellow card with 13 minutes remaining but Lamont was on hand to hack forward a loose ball from the halfway line and touch down in the last minute for a try converted by McAlister.