In his time as a joiner, Bryan Redpath used to knock in nails with both hands. Six games into his career as director of rugby at Sale Sharks, the ambidextrous former Scotland scrum-half has a serious repair job on his hands.
Despite a first half of promise at their tidy new home on the west side of Manchester last night, his charges were unable to build a victory. The Premiership's lone rangers from the north remain rooted to the foot of the table, now with six defeats out of six.
Leicester are up to third – thanks to five penalties from their teenage outside half, George Ford, and an opportunist try by his half-back partner Ben Youngs. It was a happy return for Youngs, who was making his first appearance since suffering shoulder damage on England duty in the second summer Test against the Springboks in June.
Redpath could see some positives in Sale's latest defeat, though. "I'm a lot happier," he said. "There were just a couple of crucial passes again that didn't happen.
"We just had a bad start to the second and never really recovered. George Ford for them just kept kicking them into positions and that made it harder."
With seven minutes on the clock, Leicester were hit by a sucker punch of a try. Ford – starting at fly-half for the Tigers instead of Toby Flood – aimed a clearing kick to the left touchline but Rob Miller, the Sale full-back, threw a quick line-out to Will Addison on the wing and took a swift return pass before haring over in the corner.
Nick MacLeod was unable to squeeze over the conversion from tight to the touchline but the initiative was with Sale and they proceeded to hold on to it. Maintaining their composure in defence, they restricted Leicester to pots at the post.
Ford landed two penalties, either side of one by MacLeod, leaving the Sharks with an 8-6 lead at the break. They ought to have widened the gap in the final 10 minutes of the first-half, with Leicester down to 14 men following the yellow card for their Fijian wing Vereniki Goneva and under serious pressure.
Sale's lead lasted until the third minute of the second half, Ford banging over a third penalty. Four minutes later Leicester were over for their first try, Richard Thorpe peeling from the back of the scrum and feeding Youngs for a score in the right corner.
Ford failed to add the extras but a fourth penalty success pushed the score up to 17-8 in favour of Leicester in the 52nd minute, followed by a fifth penalty success with seven minutes to go when Sale's Joe Ward was sent to the sin-bin.
"I thought our boys kept their composure. It's a good win as they were obviously desperate for the win," said the Leicester director of rugby, Richard Cockerill. "I thought Sale played really, really well."
Sale: Miller; Addison, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto; MacLeod, Willis (Fowles, 58); Roberts, Taylor (Ward, 62), Buckley (Cobilas, 50), Gray, McKenzie (Myall, 69), Vernon (Gaskell, 74), Seymour, Powell. Replacements not used: Harrison, Uys, Jennings.
Leicester: Morris; Thompstone, Tuilagi, Allen, Goneva (Smith, 69); Ford, B Youngs; Mulipola, T Youngs, Castrogiovanni (Cole, 52), Slater, Kitchener, Crane (B Deacon, 74), Thorpe, Waldrom. Replacements not used: Stevens, Stankovich, Andrew, , Harrison, Flood.
Referee: W Barnes (RFU)
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