Leicester Tigers 19-11 Sale Sharks – Hosts remain the only Premiership team with a 100% intact record
Leicester Tigers 19-11 Sale Sharks – Hosts remain the only Premiership team with a 100% record intact this season as England outcast George Ford kicks 14 points
- Leicester Tigers led 6-3 at halftime thanks to two penalties from George Ford
- Hanro Liebenberg’s converted try then stretched Steve Borthwick’s men
- Ford’s kicks continued to excel as Sale Sharks failed to make up the deficit
- Curtis Langdon scored a consolation attempt, but Tom Curtis missed the conversion
- The hosts remain first, while Sale is in eighth place after missing a bonus point
Leader Leicester recorded a sixth straight Gallagher Premiership win of the season after beating Sale Sharks 19-11 at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
The Tigers’ flying half George Ford, whom England coach Eddie Jones overlooked for the Fall Nations Series next month, was the winner of the Leicester game.
The 77-time international took four penalties and converted Hanro Liebenberg’s try in the 50th minute as Leicester retained a comfortable lead at the top of the Premiership.
George Ford scored 14 points shortly after being passed over by Eddie Jones for England
Hanro Liebenberg’s try helped extend the Leicester Tigers lead at the top of the table to six points.
Kieran Wilkinson kicked two penalties for Sale and hooker Curtis Langdon scored a late try, but it was another standout win for the Tigers as they continued with an impressive resurgence under head coach Steve Borthwick.
The victory puts them well in next Saturday’s long-awaited East Midlands derby against Northampton, but Sale could only reflect on key moments of the competition when their discipline waned and Ford punished them.
Borthwick made three changes to the side that crushed Worcester last weekend, with blocking Calum Green, scrum-half Ben Youngs and center Dan Kelly all with open hands.
Sale, meanwhile, welcomed Lood de Jager for his first appearance with the Sharks since March, with scrum half Gus Warr also and wing Marland Yarde replacing Denny Solomona.
The Sharks got off to a promising start, shading the territory early, although Wilkinson missed an early penalty.
And the intensity of the game was underlined through a blast around the dead ball line involving English colleagues Ellis Genge and Tom Curry, before referee Karl Dickson quickly restored order.
Sale looked to get his former Leicester star Manu Tuilagi into action but spilled possession after being thrown into space just inside the Sharks’ 22.
And that summed up a first quarter high on effort, but lacking a compound finishing touch as the teams continued to fight.
The first points took 31 minutes to arrive, and they came through the ever-reliable Ford, whose 40-meter penalty overtook Leicester.
Wilkinson brought Sale up three minutes before halftime when he took a penalty from in front of Leicester’s posts, however Ford ensured the Tigers shadowed a tense first half by shooting another long-range penalty that made the 6- 3 in the interval.
With defenses dominating, attacking opportunities were slim until the game came to life 10 minutes after the break.
And it was Youngs, England’s scrum half, who proved to be the catalyst, attacking space brilliantly and drawing in Sale’s defenders before delivering a goal pass to Liebenberg.
The hosts now have six wins out of six and will travel to local rivals Northampton Saints next week.
The South African still had a long way to go, but showed excellent pace and power before landing and Ford converted for a 10-point lead.
Wilkinson and Ford then exchanged penalties in quick succession, with Leicester taking a healthy lead in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers had an advantage on the back of Ford’s precise kicks, and Sale couldn’t establish anywhere near a sufficient foothold to threaten his opponents.
It was an impressive illustration of how to close out a game, and Sale could have few complaints after becoming the Tigers’ latest casualties during a season that already shows strong signs that Leicester will be a major force this period.
And the afternoon’s work was inevitably completed by an unflappable Ford, finishing with 14 points from a successful fourth penalty that left Sale to head home without losing a bonus point.