A superb performance by Owen Williams, the young replacement at fly-half for Toby Flood, in Leicester's 30-23 Premiership victory over Sale Sharks was overshadowed by allegations from Richard Cockerill that the visitors “cheated” at the scrum.
Leicester's director of rugby accused Sale of being coached not to engage and to walk backwards, but his Sale opposite number, Steve Diamond, dismissed the comments.
The new "crouch, bind, set" instructions for scrums introduced this season mean that front rows have to bind before engaging. Cockerill said: "When sides just want to cheat it is tough. You have a Sale front row who are being coached to not take the engagement and walk backwards.
"I know the referee has got to learn, but with the scrums at the end I just sat there shaking my head. The gentleman [referee] doesn't know what he is looking at. If Steve Diamond is coaching scrums like that we might as well go home because it's a waste of time."
Diamond brushed the comments aside. "That's fine coming from an individual like Richard Cockerill," he said. "His controversies with referees go before him. It's for the referee to decide not Richard."
Leicester were eventually awarded a second-half penalty try by the referee, Matthew Carley, after a series of infringements at the scrum.
Tigers bounced back from their 49-10 mauling by the leaders Saracens last week with an inspired performance. Cockerill made nine changes to his team, including the entire front row and the introduction of Williams at fly-half.
The 21-year-old, who signed from the Scarlets last summer, helped Tigers to a 20‑6 lead at half-time. He played a major role in an early try for the lock Ed Slater, landing the conversion and then kicking a penalty to put Tigers 10-0 ahead after 12 minutes. Williams came off a few minutes from the end, after converting a penalty try, with 15 points to his credit from a perfect kicking display that included three conversions and three penalties.
The winger Adam Thompstone had scored Tigers' second try and Williams had converted superbly from wide out on the wing before kicking a penalty.
Sale hit back after the interval with an impressive try from the centre Mark Cueto and another fine effort from the wing Charlie Ingall, both converted, and a late penalty by replacement Joe Ford to earn them a bonus point.
Saracens, meanwhile, kept steaming on ahead at the top of the table with a simple and predictable 26-8 victory at the bottom club, Worcester Warriors.
The Londoners had been expected to win by a bigger margin but four tries in the first half-hour – from wing David Strettle, hooker Schalk Brits, full-back Alex Goode and fly-half Charlie Hodgson – earned them a bonus point.
Hodgson converted three of the tries. Worcester had a penalty from outside-half Ignacio Mieres and try by the No 8 Leonardo Senatore to wrap up the scoring before half-time.
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