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Match Reaction: Leicester Tigers 16-18 Sale Sharks

Match Reaction: Leicester Tigers 16-18 Sale Sharks

Sale Sharks edged a nervy affair against Leicester Tigers 18-16 thanks to a late penalty try to earn their first Premiership Rugby Cup win of the season.

Trailing by five points three minutes from time, the Sharks were rewarded for a rolling maul that was pulled down on its way to the line, and then survived a late penalty attempt from Tom Hardwick to earn the victory.

Rob Webber had got the first try of the game for Sale, but Guy Thompson’s score on the stroke of half-time put Leicester ahead for the first time and they seemed on course for victory before the late drama.

Man of the match – Josh Beaumont

In damp conditions, it was hard for anyone to stand out, but Josh Beaumont impressed at No.8, with one pick-up from the back of a scrum helping set up the field position for the first try. With a set-piece that was struggling, his control at the base was also important for Sale.

Moment of the match

It has to be the ending, with Sale piling on the pressure, the Leicester defence finally succumbed. With Facundo Gigena already in the bin, a five-metre lineout and ensuing maul could not be stopped, resulting in a penalty try for the Sharks. It was heart-in-mouth time from the restart when Sale conceded a penalty, but Hardwick’s otherwise flawless kicking night was spoiled as he pushed his effort wide.

Try of the match

It looked like being the winner, but Guy Thompson and Leicester were denied at the end. Still, there’s no question, the No.8’s effort on the stroke of half-time was the pick of the scores. After some drives close to the posts, Leicester were able to suck in the Sale defence and then spread it wide for Thompson to cross in the corner. He could have been confused for near namesake Adam Thompstone, popping up on the latter’s wing, but it was the back-rower who was on hand for the try, converted from the touchline by Hardwick.

What they said:

Leicester flanker Will Evans

“The weather was terrible, the game was probably not so good to watch for supporters and, to be honest, not so good to play in either out there.

“The line speed and connection between the boys was much better in defence than we showed against Worcester last weekend.”

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond

“I thought it was an evenly-matched game. We needed a run-out. It’s new to all coaches, this three-week gap so I don’t think anybody has got it right.

“Maybe Worcester have got it right going full strength every week. For us, we lost a game against Worcester, we drew against Sarries and we sneaked a win that could have gone either way tonight.

“We’re happy with a win because we don’t often win at this place.”

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