Sale 35 Leeds 24: Sale bench stirs late comeback after scare from Tykes

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The Independent Online

Poor Leeds, they defended as if their lives depended upon their tackling, but they came away empty handed, without even a bonus point to show for a terrific showing which rocked Sale to the core.

Sale were given an early reminder of how fickle the fates can be when Gordon Ross put a steepling kick towards the home posts. Mark Cueto, in the unfamiliar position of full-back, pushed the ball back over his shoulder, and Nathan Thomas was on hand to cart the ball over the line. Ross converted and Leeds were 7-0 in front; and all this within the first two minutes.

Valentin Courrent kicked a penalty for Sale but was replaced by Charlie Hodgson before the first quarter had been completed. Sale then won a glut of quality possession, laying siege to the Tykes' line. But attack after attack foundered on a defiant Leeds defence. Leeds still had their noses in front 10-6 at the interval, despite losing Jordan Crane to the sin bin.

With Crane still serving his time Sale continued where they two weeks ago left off before the break. Hodgson collected his second penalty, then a delicate chip-and-chase by Hodgson allowed Chris Mayor to cut a fine line to the posts.

When Sebastien Chabal tried to run the ball out from his line, Leeds buried him for Ross to burrow over, and the Scot converted. Tom Biggs then went in for try No 3, Ross converted to make it 24-16 to the Tykes, before Mayor and Wigglesworth combined for the great escape act.

Sale: Tries Mayor 2, Lund, Wigglesworth; Conversions Hodgson 3; Penalties Courrent, Hodgson 2. Leeds: Tries Thomas, Ross, Biggs; Conversions Ross 3; Penalties Ross.

Sale: Cueto; Ripol (Mayor 36-40), Taylor, Todd (Mayor 53), Hanley; Courrent (Hodgson 20), Martens; Sheridan, Titterrell, Stewart (Turner 51), Lobbe, Schofield, C Jones, Lund (White 79), Chabal.

Leeds: De Marigny; Doherty, Craig, Snyman, Biggs; Ross, Marshall; Lensing, Rawlinson (Bulloch 59), Gerber (Shelley 37), Hooper (Murphy 63), Palmer, Dunbar (Crane 37), Parks, Thomas.

Referee: C White (Gloucestershire).