Leicester Tigers 30 Sale Sharks 23 match report: First half performance enough to see champions home despite valiant fightback

Tigers led 20-6 at half-time before Sale mounted a brave but unsuccessful comeback

Leicester held off a tremendous fightback by Sale to beat the Sharks 30-23 at Welford Road.

It was a much needed boost for the Aviva Premiership champions who started the day in seventh place after last week's thrashing at leaders Saracens.

They owed the win to a great first half performance which earned them two tries and a 20-6 half time lead.

Star of the show was young Welsh fly-half Owen Williams who had a fabulous first 40 minutes and finished with 15 points from a faultless kicking display.

But Sale hit back after the interval with two tries of their own and a late penalty by replacement Joe Ford earned them a bonus point.

Leicester made nine changes after last week's 49-10 thumping at Sarries, including the entire front row and at fly-half where Williams replaced Ryan Lamb.

Sale gave a debut to Tonga number eight Viliami Fahiki, while former England winger Mark Cueto moved to outside centre because of an injury to Mark Jennings.

A full-house was denied a potentially mouthwatering battle between two England fly-halves because of injury to Leicester's Toby Flood and Sale's Danny Cipriani who also has flu.

However, Williams, who signed from the Scarlets last summer, showed he may be the one to succeed Flood, who is moving to France at the end of the season, by making a sparkling start to his ninth appearance for the Tigers.

The 21-year-old was at the heart of all the good work that earned them a 10-0 lead after 12 minutes, and was heavily involved in a brilliant fourth minute try.

His chip over halfway was caught by Dan Bowden and, after Thomas Waldrom had bulldozed his way into the 22 and the ball was recycled several times, Williams popped up to provide the scoring pass for lock Ed Slater.

Williams converted and then kicked a penalty before being on the receiving end of a scuffle with Sale centre Sammy Tuitupou, who was sin-binned by referee Ashley Rowden after he had consulted the TMO.

The TMO was involved again two minutes later, this time awarding a try to Leicester winger Adam Thompstone who scored from a long miss-pass by Bowden.

Williams had the crowd roaring after a superb conversion from the left touchline made it 17-0, which became 17-3 when Sale fly-half Nick Macleod slotted an easy penalty.

Thompstone should have had a second after being put away by Williams but spilled the ball in the tackle near the line before Williams made it 20-3 in the 35th minute with an easy penalty.

Sale finally managed to exert some pressure with a few minutes of the half left.

They refused three kickable penalties in favour of going for a try but failed to dent the Tigers defence and had to settle for a penalty by Macleod from the left touchline deep into overtime.

Williams stretched Leicester's lead four minutes after the interval with a penalty from in front of the posts and, after full-back Rob Miller had missed a long range penalty for Sale, Cueto scored an impressive try after scrum-half Dwayne Peel had sparked the attack with a clever switch of direction.

Tigers centre Bowden was injured during the attack and replaced by Matt Smith.

Macleod kicked the conversion from the right touchline to give hope to Sale, who withstood some fierce pressure from the Tigers just before the hour mark.

And they got their reward for that stout defence when winger Charlie Ingall finished off a great move started by flanker James Gaskell, who split the Tigers defence wide open with a blistering break.

Macleod again kicked the conversion from the right touchline to put Sale within three points of their hosts.

But the forwards put the Tigers back in control when they earned a penalty try from a sixth successive scrum on the Sale line.

Williams converted but replacement Joe Ford kicked a long range penalty for Sale three minutes later.


A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home