Redpath starts Sale resurgence

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The Independent Online

Leicester failed to get their title bid back on the rails yesterday after they could not finish off Sale when they had the chance. The champions have now gone three games without a win.

Leicester failed to get their title bid back on the rails yesterday after they could not finish off Sale when they had the chance. The champions have now gone three games without a win.

Although Sale had fought hard for a nine-point lead in the early stages of this Zurich Premiership match, they allowed their opponents to take control on the half-hour - exactly what had happened when they were demolished by Saracens two weeks ago.

The match should have been put beyond their reach when Tim Stimpson sent Winston Stanley clear on the left. After crossing the line the wing tried to go behind the posts but Bryan Redpath, Sale's never-say-die scrum-half, did a sufficiently good job of harrying him to cause the wing to run out of the in-goal area.

Perhaps that left Sale believing that, despite trailing by eight points, the Gods might be on their side after all. Vaughan Going trimmed the lead to just three points with a try with two minutes left on the clock and then, in the second minute of injury time, Sale's Fijian fly-half dropped a 30-metre goal to secure two points for the draw.

Leicester again had to contend with criticism that the referees allow them to get with cheating. Newcastle's Rob Andrew suggested as much recently and he was joined after yesterday's game by the Sale director of rugby, Adrian Hadley. The former Welsh international did not blame Leicester but said it was the job of the referee to stop players lying on the ball or playing it on the ground, which he alleged Leicester had got away with in the game.

Whatever, Leicester were often untidy at crucial times, although Sale never stopped harassing them. Even so Sale should not have been allowed to claw their way back.

Little kicked three penalties for Sale in the first 20 minutes but his side never looked like getting back on the scoreboard until two minutes before the end when Going, in for Steve Hanley on the wing, squeezed over in the corner after a rare spell of home pressure.

In between Geordan Murphy had been put into space beautifully for an unconverted try before half-time and Stimpson then found his range to drill over four penalties.

Leicester will rue the fact that Stanley did not settle for a certain five points when his side already led by more than a score.

Sale: J Mallinder; S Davidson (M Shaw, 71), J Baxendell, M Deane, V Going; N Little, B Redpath; P Smith (P Winstanley, 40), B Jackman, D Bell (A Black, 40), G Manson-Bishop (S Lines, 72), A Whittle, P Anglesea (Wilks, 75), R Appleyard, A Sanderson (capt).

Leicester: T Stimpson; G Murphy (O Smith, 72), L Lloyd, P Howard, W Stanley; A Goode, A Healey (J Hamilton, 65); D Jelley (G Rowntree, 53), D West (R Cockerill, 40), D Garforth (R Nebbett, 75), M Johnson, P Short (B Key, 53), P Gustard (A Balding, 65), N Back, M Corry.

Referee: S Leyshon (Bristol).

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