Pressure tells as Tigers buckle at end to lose again
PENALTY TRY SEALS FATE AS LEICESTER REMAIN POINTLESS IN PREMIERSHIP CUP
LEICESTER Tigers suffered a third consecutive Premiership Cup defeat when they were beaten 18-16 at Welford Road by Sale Sharks.
A penalty try four minutes from time saw Sale snatch victory, though Tigers had one last shot at rescuing the game only for Tom Hardwick to pull a 40m penalty wide.
The first half was a mess in the saturated conditions and Tigers did not help themselves with a string of errors.
The visitors went ahead with a Rob Du Preez penalty on nine minutes and extended their advantage to 8-0 just five minutes later when hooker Rob Webber was driven over from a line-out close to the home line.
Tigers responded with a Tom Hardwick penalty midway through the half, but then gifted Sale another three points when they were penalised from the re-start.
Hardwick landed his second penalty of the evening when he connected from 40m in what was becoming an ever-scrappier affair, Tigers simply unable to find any cohesion in attack, but not too far behind at 6-11. However, they finally got it right in the closing moments of the half with what was their first serious assault on the visitors.
Tigers’ scrum, which was again operating well, won a penalty and Hardwick put the ball into the corner.
Tigers won possession and hammered away at the Sale line, before spinning the ball wide to No.8 Guy Thompson, who crashed over in the corner.
Hardwick landed a fine conversion from the touchline and Leicester went in at the break with their noses ahead, 13-11.
Tigers were barely seen as an attacking force in the second half of what was becoming a forgettable night.
Sale enjoyed much the greater share of possession, though Leicester’s defence did at least stand up to whatever the visitors produced.
Tigers managed to push their lead to five points when Jordan Olowofela’s chip through earned a penalty 40m out which Hardwick knocked over to make it 16-11 after 52 minutes. Leicester, though, rarely looked like adding to that and even their scrum, where they had enjoyed first-half dominance, began to struggle.
As a result Sale were camped in the Tigers’ half for long stretches of the second half, and Leicester simply unable to clear their lines even when the Sharks did cough up the ball.
The pressure, though, eventually told in the closing minutes.
Tigers conceded a series of penalties inside their over 5m line and prop Facundo Gigena was yellow carded as the referee ran out of patience.
Sale took advantage and a drive for the line was illegally stopped, according to the ref, who went under the posts for a penalty try.
With two minutes left Tigers won a penalty 40m out but Hardwick was unable to land the goal and the game had slipped away from the hosts.
RAIN-DRENCHED: Rob Du Preez of Sale Sharks boots the ball into the wind and rain in the first half of last night’s Premiership Cup match at Wleford Road