Sale crushed in the stampede as Leicester grab bag full of tries

Leicester 54 Sale 21
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The Independent Online

When the opposition turn down the opportunity to kick the easiest of penalties in the 13th minute, you know you are in for a long afternoon. Leicester had already scored two tries by that point, and though Sale had their moments thereafter, moments they very much were; for the most part the visitors were engaged in an exercise in damage limitation.

Given Tigers' director of rugby Richard Cockerill was unable to call on the England trio of Ben Youngs, Dan Cole and George Chuter, rested under the Elite Player Squad agreement, and fellow England internationals Toby Flood, Jordan Crane and Tom Croft were among those out injured, he was understandably satisfied.

"We had a lot of guys missing and rested, but we wanted to try to keep the intensity of our two Heineken Cup games against Perpignan, and you have to be pleased with scoring eight tries," said Cockerill.

Sale's head coach Pete Anglesea, who was promoted from his role overseeing the club's academy when the club parted company with the former All-Black Mike Brewer two days before Christmas, admitted his first game in charge had told him a great deal about the size of the job he faces. "I can see we are massively lacking in confidence, but Welford Road is not a good place to try and find that," said Anglesea.

"I've never smoked in my life, but when we were 21 points down after 15 minutes I was contemplating starting. But it wasn't all negatives; the scrum went well, and we scored some nice tries. The club is in a transition period, but I know we have enough quality in the squad to turn things around, and there were good things to build on."

Two of Leicester's tries were scored by the 19-year-old centre Manu Tuilagi, a player of such obvious ability and impressive physicality that he is already being talked about as a possible promotion from England's 'A' team to the full squad. Cockerill counselled caution, suggesting that Manu Tuilagi needs to be more consistent before being exposed to full international examination.

"Clearly there aren't many at his age as good as him, he'd like to play for England and at some stage I'm sure he will, but not in the short term," said Cockerill.

"Young players need to learn to perform at the same high level over a run of five, 10, or even 20 games, but we have a good record of developing young players here, and while he'll come and go from the side, I'm confident he will continue to progress."

Anthony Allen started the rout, with Leicester's other scores coming from Manu's brother Alesana, Rob Hawkins, Scott Hamilton and Matt Smith. The stand-off Jeremy Staunton converted seven, and hit the post with the other attempt.

Sale replied through Asaeli Boko, Dwayne Peel, and in the last minute, Kristian Ormsby, but with the Sharks now without a win since 14 November, Anglesea has already begun the process of change.

The England wing Mark Cueto has been appointed captain "for the foreseeable future".

Scorers: Leicester: Tries Allen, A Tuilagi, Hawkins, M Tuilagi (2), Hamilton (2), Smith; Conversions Staunton (7); Sale: Tries Boko, Peel, Ormsby Conversions Macleod (3)

Leicester Murphy; Hamilton, M Tuilagi, Allen (Twelvetrees, 62), Alesana Tuilagi (Smith, 44); Staunton, Grindal (Harrison, 70); Ayerza (Bucknall 69), Hawkins (Duffy, 59), Castrogiovanni (White, 59), Deacon (Green, 67), Slater, Mafi, Newby (Hemingway, 46), Waldrom.

Sale Williams; Cohen (Miller, 68), Tait, Anitelea Tuilagi (Bell, 62), Cueto; Macleod, Peel; Imiolek, M Jones (Roberts, 59), Wihongi (Thomas, 77), C Jones, Ormsby, Boko (McMillan, 51), Fearns, Brightwell.

Referee D Richards (RFU).