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Sale stun Premiership leaders Leicester with thrilling second-half comeback

By PA
Press Association

Trending on RugbyPass

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Sale produced a stunning second-half fightback to defeat Leicester 35-26 and consign the runaway Premiership leaders to a second straight league defeat.

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In front of a bumper sell-out crowd, the Sharks cut loose in the final quarter en route to a hard-earned bonus-point success at the AJ Bell Stadium.

With both sides somewhat depleted thanks to Six Nations call-ups, it proved to be a rather cagey opening to the clash.

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The Tigers, with veteran Richard Wigglesworth in as skipper and scrum-half, were first on the board when Freddie Burns kicked a monster of a penalty from just inside the Sale half.

The visitors had lost five of their previous six trips to Sale, but they signalled their battling intentions after 15 minutes when they bagged their first five-pointer.

After winning their lineout in the corner, Julian Montoya barged through the scrum to touch down for a try which Burns converted from out wide.

Sale were not perturbed, however, and swiftly struck back.

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A smart side-step from Luke James allowed the hosts’ full-back to dart home to halve the deficit to 10-5.

Steve Borthwick’s men are not short on resilience, though, and it was not long before they were in again after Guy Porter thundered past two hefty challenges before going over in the left corner.

The Tigers took control in the second quarter when their passing and possession was much crisper.

They stretched their lead to 18-5 shortly before the interval when Burns nailed another exquisite penalty kick from long distance.

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Sale had probed for openings throughout an entertaining opening 40 minutes, but the visitors looked to be at their imperious best.

Leicester made an equally competent start to the second period, with solid kicking and resolute defence keeping their opponents at bay.

The visitors won another penalty decision just inside the Sale half, and Burns obliged with the boot again to make it 21-5.

It was starting to look as though the Tigers might be about to cruise home, but back came the Sharks.

In the 52nd minute, Ben Curry darted through a gap following a lineout and dived over to score. AJ MacGinty added the extras.

When replacement Arron Reed touched down in the corner minutes later, Sharks fans almost raised the roof.

MacGinty missed the tough conversion attempt but, at 21-17, Alex Sanderson’s men were now back within sight.

When Dan Du Preez then charged down Bryce Hegarty’s kick and dived over under the posts, the home fans went wild again.

Their side had now turned the game on its head, with MacGinty’s conversion making it 24-21 to Sale.

Montoya’s pushover try eased Leicester back in front, but joyous scenes greeted two nerveless penalty kicks from MacGinty and Tom Roebuck’s late breakaway try as Sale sealed a thrilling fifth victory of the campaign.

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