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Sale Sharks 8 Leicester Tigers 20
6:41pm Monday 8th October 2012 in Sport
WHEN you’ve lost your first five games, the last opponents you’d wish to meet in your sixth game would be Leicester Tigers.
The Sharks started aggressively, holding a narrow half time lead, but faded during the second half as Tigers’ fly half Ford punished their misdemeanours. But their fans left the Salford City Stadium on Friday realising that their men had stood up to be counted.
The picture didn’t improve on Saturday, when London Irish surprisingly beat table toppers Northampton Saints, with a try bonus point, to draw eight points clear of the North’s only Premiership club.
The Sharks can’t start to address their problem until the end of this month, when they travel to Worcester before meeting the Irish on home turf. Never in the club’s history have two matches assumed such importance.
The home side got off to the perfect start as Rob Miller went over with seven minutes played after quick thinking by Addison and Cueto. Sharks kept that lead up until half-time, going in to the interval 8-6 in front as Leicester could only manage two Ford penalties in reply to Miller's effort and a Macleod penalty. The major interval talking point was the denial of a second try when Addison crossed the line.
The television match official deemed that Seymour had knocked on, but the clearer interpretation sees a Leicester hand interfering with the ball at the ruck. Also, the Sharks didn’t score during the 10 minutes that Tigers’ winger Goneva was in the sin bin just before the break.
An 8-6 lead was as good as it got for Sale Sharks; on 43 minutes Ford sent over a penalty, three minutes before Youngs broke clear on the blindside to score a try. Flanker Thorpe spun out of the back of a scrum to send the England scrum-half over for an easy try.
Ford was back on the scoresheet with a long 52nd-minute penalty as Leicester's dominant start to the second half saw them build a 17-8 lead. Sale tried hard to get back into the game, particularly through breaks from replacement scrum-half Fowles and Miller, but they found Leicester strong in defence and receiving favourable assistance from crucial refereeing decisions at scrum time.
Things went from bad to worse for the home side as replacement hooker Ward was yellow carded on 72 minutes for throwing two punches, Ford knocking over the resulting penalty to seal the victory. After their strong start, the Sharks had sadly ended with a limp finish.
Sale Sharks: Miller, Addison, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto (Uys 72), Macleod, Willis (Fowles 58), Roberts, Taylor (Ward 63), Buckley (Cobilas 50), Gray, McKenzie (Myall 70), Vernon (Gaskell 74), Seymour, Powell (Taylor 75). Replacements not used: Harrison, Jennings.