Penalty try earns Sale rare win over Tigers

The Rugby Paper - - Premiership Rugby Cup - By ROB WILDMAN

SALE edged to vic­tory in a tense fi­nale but the late drama did lit­tle to lift a for­get­table match at a wet Welford Road.

Tom Hard­wick, the young Leices­ter fly-half, will re­mem­ber the night for his last-minute penalty miss which would have res­cued Tigers from a third straight loss in this new back-up com­pe­ti­tion.

In­stead, Sale were left cel­e­brat­ing a rare win here – only their third in 25 years reck­oned Steve Diare­sumes mond af­ter­wards – thanks to a penalty try in the 78th minute of a match dom­i­nated by for­ward wres­tles and not much more.

Leices­ter, who led 16-11, de­fended fiercely late on and re­pelled a suc­ces­sion of Sale drives off line-outs un­til sub­sti­tute prop Fa­cundo Gi­gena was sin­binned by the busy ref­eree Si­mon Hard­ing whose night’s work saw him award 29 penal­ties.

How­ever, de­spite the feel­good fac­tor, Sale’s di­rec­tor of rugby was quick to warn that his squad would have to play much bet­ter when the Pre­mier­ship proper next Satur­day at Sara­cens.

Di­a­mond ad­mit­ted Sale had “sneaked a win” and added: “We are pre­par­ing for Sara­cens next week which we know, if we’ve only had three wins here in 25 years and we’ve not won down there for ten, we need to get our act to­gether.

“If we play like we did tonight we won’t win next week.”

Sale will have South African scrum-half Faf de Klerk avail­able at Sara­cens and Di­a­mond hopes in­jured Eng­land flanker Tom Curry will be back fit early in the New Year.

Di­a­mond said Curry, whose brother Ben played a full part in this win, will be out for six to eight weeks due to the an­kle in­jury he sus­tained in Eng­land’s win over South Africa last week.

A re­turn in early Jan­uary would give the in­ter­na­tional a chance to be fit for Eng­land’s Six Na­tions cam­paign when this se­condary Pre­mier­ship Cup re­sumes.

This match-up saw both Leices­ter and Sale field far stronger teams than the pre­vi­ous two Cup games in an ef­fort to be ready for the Pre­mier­ship re-start.

For Leices­ter, af­ter that limp per­for­mance against Worces­ter last Satur­day, it was a much bet­ter dis­play on a wet night which con­trib­uted to the low qual­ity on of­fer.

Sale de­served vic­tory for the weight of pos­ses­sion though they al­lowed an early lead to frit­ter away be­fore ex­ert­ing their su­pe­ri­or­ity in the fi­nal quar­ter.

Leices­ter took a 13-11 lead just be­fore half-time when their best at­tack­ing spell earned a try, in the right cor­ner, for No.8 Guy Thomp­son.

Hard­wick landed the con­ver­sion from the touch­line to go along­side two ear­lier penalty goals which came af­ter Sale’s 17thminute try from hooker Rob Web­ber.

Rob du Preez, the South African fly-half brought in to cover the in­jured AJ MacGinty, missed the con­ver­sion, hav­ing kicked a penalty in the third minute.

A third penalty from Hard­wick 13 min­utes into the sec­ond half put Leices­ter 16-11 ahead.

That lead lasted a full 25 min­utes be­fore Sale’s com­mand­ing for­ward ad­van­tage gained a penalty try.

Leices­ter’s good re-start earned a penalty from the re­sult­ing break­down but Hard­wick’s kick from 38m faded away in the dif­fi­cult con­di­tions to leave Sale cel­e­brat­ing.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Threat: Matt Postleth­waite makes a break for Sale

High rise: Tigers’ Gra­ham Kitch­ener wins a li­ne­out

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