Tries: L. James, Curry, Reed, D. Du Preez, Roebuck Cons: MacGinty 2 Pens: MacGinty 2
Leicester (18) 26
Tries: Montoya 2, Porter Con: Burns Pens: Burns 3
Sale Sharks delivered a second-half fightback to stun Premiership leaders Leicester Tigers with a try bonus point victory at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Tigers led 21-5 early in the second half as Freddie Burns’ boot added to Julian Montoya and Guy Porter tries.
Sharks then roared into life, as Ben Curry, Arron Reed and Dan Du Preez tries built on Luke James’ effort.
Montoya’s second put Tigers ahead again, but AJ MacGinty’s penalties and Tom Roebuck’s try earned Sale the win.
Few inside the ground would have tipped Sale after an error-strewn first period, in which it looked as though Tigers would add to their two wins in Europe with a return to winning ways in the league.
Their scores were chalk and cheese; Montoya thundered over on the back of a destructive maul, while Porter was fleet of foot to race over from distance for the second.
Burns’ boot was also helping to build a healthy lead from the tee, but Sale did show glimpses of what was to come later in the game when James carved his way through to put them on the board.
Perhaps Tigers boss Steve Borthwick thought the game was won when he took off Burns early in the second half, but the Sharks had other ideas as they hit form.
Curry’s try, breaking out from a maul, was set-piece ingenuity, and Reed showed devastating pace after a flowing move to the left created a narrow corridor to score.
Back-rower Du Preez was everywhere for Alex Sanderson’s side, and showed smartness to block and gather to score after Tigers full-back Bryce Hegarty unsuccessfully tried to launch his exit kick downfield.
With their tails up, Sale were pegged back almost immediately, as Tigers used a penalty to crank up the pressure with field position that the direct Montoya took advantage of for his second try.
Yet, the hosts picked themselves off the canvas, and with Tigers desperately clinging on they forced penalties which MacGinty kicked on his 100th appearance, and Roebuck pounced on a messed-up kick-off attempt to put the result beyond doubt.
Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson:
“That was a fantastic game from the lads, and what a dramatic turnaround. Something was clearly missing in that first half in terms of intensity and putting the pressure on, but we definitely finished the game strongly and got a terrific result.
“Our physicality and pace was great to see, and after a game and a performance like that I can’t take the credit.
“All of the credit has to go to the players – they deserve that. This kind of result certainly bodes well for the future. It’ll lift energy and intensity around the place.”
Leicester director of rugby Steve Borthwick:
“I thought the effort from all of my players was magnificent throughout. We had a young team out, of course, with lots of young players, but to a man they gave it everything.
“It was just two really good teams going at it out there and it was a good game to watch, I thought. The result hasn’t gone our way, obviously, but we’ll go away and learn from it.
“For large parts of the game we competed really well and the lads that came in were exceptional. I adjusted the team as best I could, but we just came up short in the end.
“We’ll all have a good review of the game and learn as much as we can from it.”
Sale: L James; Roebuck, R du Preez, Van Rensburg, McGuigan; MacGinty, Cliff; Harrison, Ashman, Oosthuizen; J-L du Preez, De Jager; Ross (capt), Curry, D du Preez.
Replacements: Langdon, McIntyre, Jones, JP du Preez, Dugdale, Warr, S James, Reed.