Sale keep play-off hopes alive with Leicester win

Sam James
Sam James' scores Sale's third try on his final home appearance for the club [Getty]

Gallagher Premiership

Sale: (21) 31

Tries: Warr, Taylor, S James, O'Flaherty Pens: Ford Cons: Ford (4)

Leicester: (15) 22

Tries: Cole, Scott, Martin Pens: Shillcock Cons: Pollard, Shillcock

Sale Sharks kept their Premiership play-off hopes alive by securing a bonus-point victory over Leicester Tigers at the Salford Community Stadium.

Tries from scrum-half Gus Warr, hooker Tommy Taylor and full-back Sam James helped put them 21-15 up at half-time.

Winger Tom O'Flaherty added a fourth try after the interval to secure all five points.

Tigers kept in touch with tries from Dan Cole and Matt Scott before George Martin scored a third after the break.

Leicester's outside play-off bid was ended by defeat against Bristol in the previous round but Sale's challenge still burns brightly.

Victory moved them third in the table and their trip to Saracens on the final day could now be a shootout for the top four.

After conceding the opening try to Cole, Manu Tuilagi, in his final home game, crashed into Tigers winger Ollie Hassell-Collins off first phase.

Warr exploited a subsequent gap to touch down and Hassell-Collins was sin-binned for a high tackle.

Sale took advantage of the extra man as Ben Curry peeled off a line-out and broke up the blindside wing before passing for Taylor to score in the left corner on his 150th appearance for the club.

Scott picked off a loose pass from Warr to run in for Tigers’ second try.

But Sale scored again before half-time as Bevan Rodd’s offload sent Ben Curry away, he passed wide to O’Flaherty, whose inside ball sent James over, also on his final appearance at home.

With every point crucial in such a tight race for the top four, it took just four minutes of the second half for Sale to score a bonus-point try.

James grubbed behind the Tigers defence and it fell kindly for O’Flaherty to juggle, gather and score in the left corner.

Sale head coach Alex Sanderson told BBC Radio Manchester:

“It was pretty comprehensive and I was very happy with lots of our areas.

“Leicester never die, they made it a real physical hard-fought win in the end.

“We’re clawing our way towards the semi-finals with the mammoth challenge of Saracens to come.”

Leicester Tigers head coach Dan McKellar told BBC Radio Leicester:

“It was the story of our season. We started well and worked incredibly hard for our tries but then we gave them a couple of easy ones.

“To beat quality teams you need to put in an 80-minute performance and at the moment we’re playing well for a period of time but then falling away.

“It’s been a tough year, we’ll learn a lot from it and we’ll be a better group for it.”

Sale: S James, Roebuck, R du Preez, Tuilagi, O'Flaherty, Ford, Warr; Rodd, Taylor, Harper, Wiese, Andrews, B Curry, Dugdale, J-L du Preez.

Replacements: Creevy, McIntyre, John, Bamber, Van Rhyn, Quirke, Maasi-White, Reed.

Leicester: Steward, Shillcock, Scott, Kelly, Hassell-Collins, Pollard, Van Poortvliet; Van Wyk, Clare, Cole, Martin, Wells, Liebenburg, Reffell, Wiese.

Replacements: Dolly, Whitcombe, Hayes, Carnduff, Cracknell, Whiteley, Cokanasiga, Kata.

Sin-bin: Hassell-Collins (10), Clare (66).

Referee: Christophe Ridley.