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Match Report: Leicester Tigers 19-15 Sale Sharks

30 Sep 2018
Match Report: Leicester Tigers 19-15 Sale Sharks

George Ford proved the difference as the England international kicked Leicester Tigers to a narrow victory in the Gallagher Premiership over Sale Sharks at Welford Road.

The fly-half booted 14 points for the hosts to add to Kyle Eastmond’s first-half try on his return to the Leicester starting line-up as they prevailed 19-15 against the league’s bottom side.

But it was a case of what might have been for the visitors, who took an early lead through Marland Yarde’s try, with Will Cliff failing with all three of his attempts at goal.

Rob Webber and Curtis Langdon finished off driving mauls for Sharks after the break, but Ford’s accuracy from the key proved key as he kept Leicester’s noses in front.

Eastmond, who came off the bench to play a part in Tigers’ second-half fightback in their defeat to Worcester, returned to the starting XV in the absence of Manu Tuilagi.

Adam Thompstone also replaced Jonah Holmes, who dropped to the Leicester bench, while Ben White was handed his first Premiership start of the season.

Sale welcomed back Rohan Janse van Rensburg to their squad for the first time since January after ankle surgery, while Webber and Josh Strauss started at hooker and No.8, respectively.

But the visitors were forced into a last-minute change before kick-off as AJ MacGinty was replaced by Sam James at fly-half, with Luke James replacing his brother at 13.

And it was not long before the replacement No.10 was in the thick of the action.

His kick downfield was gathered by Denny Solomona, before the ball was recycled out wide to send Yarde over with just five minutes gone, with Will Cliff hitting the upright with the conversion.

But it was not long before Tigers hit back. The hosts had to be patient, moving the ball from side to side inside the Sale 22, before Gareth Owen found a gap in the defence.

The outside centre had Eastmond for company and offloaded to his midfield partner to get Leicester on the scoreboard, with Ford’s conversion edging the hosts in front.

Ford extended Leicester’s lead with a penalty on 24 minutes after Sale were penalised for not rolling away, before Jonny May had a try disallowed on the half-hour mark.

The England winger raced in unopposed from 50 metres, but the officials judged Ford’s pass to him had gone forward, although the fly-half was able to add three more points before the break.

It remained just as tight after the restart, with little to choose between the two sides, before Sale pushed their way over for their second try, which was awarded to Webber.

Another unsuccessful conversion from Cliff ensured Leicester remained three points to the good and it was not long before Ford extended the lead back to six points going into the final ten minutes.

Ford was on target again with five minutes to go, forcing Sale to find two scores for victory – one which came in the final minute as Langdon barrelled over the line.

But it was too little, too late for the visitors, whose only consolation was a losing bonus point, which means they remain bottom of the league with just one win from five games.