Dimes fo­cused on Sar­ries as Tigers tamed

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By PAUL EDDISON

LEICESTER TIGERS SALE SHARKS 16 18 SALE sur­vived a nervy fin­ish on their way to vic­tory at Leicester and are now ready to wel­come back Faf de Klerk and pos­si­bly Chris Ash­ton when they re­turn to Pre­mier­ship ac­tion against Sara­cens next week­end.

A rare win at Welford Road, 18-16, was sealed thanks to a penalty try two min­utes from time, al­though Leicester could still have snatched vic­tory at the death had Tom Hard­wick held his nerve with a penalty.

His ef­fort was pushed just wide though, with Sale now up and run­ning in the Pre­mier­ship Rugby Cup, but for Steve Di­a­mond, the fo­cus has al­ready turned to taking on the Pre­mier­ship cham­pi­ons in Lon­don next week­end.

And the re­turn of scrum-half De Klerk, with the Spring­boks in France this week­end, is likely to be a ma­jor boost, while Di­a­mond is also hop­ing that Eng­land may re­lease Ash­ton too.

He said: “We’ll wel­come Faf de Klerk back on Mon­day morn­ing to pre­pare for Sara­cens. If we’ve only had three wins here in 25 years, we’ve not won down there for ten so we need to get our act to­gether be­cause if we play like that, we won’t win.

“If Eng­land beat New Zealand, [Ed­die Jones] might re­lease Chris Ash­ton to us. Faf will be back, Ro­han van Rens­burg will be back, Bryn Evans too, so we should be miss­ing Tom Curry only.”

With both teams still search­ing for a first win in the com­pe­ti­tion, this match was more a chance to warm up for the league, and as the rain poured down, the quality was lack­ing.

Sale prob­a­bly just about de­served it, dom­i­nat­ing the open­ing quar­ter and the clos­ing stages, with Rob Web­ber cross­ing for their first try from a rolling maul on 17 min­utes that opened up an 8-0 lead.

A kick­ing bat­tle be­tween Hard­wick and Robert du Preez, on de­but, left the vis­i­tors 11-6 up just be­fore half-time, but that is when Leicester struck through No.8 Guy Thomp­son out wide.

Hard­wick’s con­ver­sion made it 13-11 to the Tigers, and he added three more from a penalty a quar­ter of an hour into the sec­ond half.

But from that point on, Sale took con­trol, even­tu­ally re­warded with a penalty try from an­other maul with Leicester down to 14 fol­low­ing Fa­cundo Gi­gena’s sin-bin­ning.

That looked to have won it, but a penalty from the restart gave Hard­wick the chance to deny the Sharks, but he could not split the up­rights, much to the amuse­ment of Di­a­mond.

He added: “Their guy who kicked the con­ver­sion (in the first half) per­haps cel­e­brated a lit­tle too early.

“I thought it was an even­ly­matched game. We needed a runout. It’s new to all coaches, this three-week gap so I don’t think any­body has got it right.

“We’re happy with a win be­cause we don’t of­ten win at this place.”

Sale Sharks’ Jono Ross wins a line out dur­ing last night’s clash with Leicester

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