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Skipper Rob du Preez gives Sale Sharks deserved win against Leicester Tigers

By PA
Connor Doc and Josh Beaumont of Sale Sharks celebrate at the final whistle during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium on October 21, 2023 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images for Sale Sharks)

Captain Rob du Preez’s individual try allowed Sale Sharks to make it back-to-back wins in the Gallagher Premiership as they defeated Leicester Tigers 24-17 at Welford Road.

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The Sharks controlled the majority of proceedings, only to be pegged back by Ollie Hassell-Collins’ excellent finish in what was an entertaining encounter between two of last season’s top-four teams.

Ultimately, however, Alex Sanderson’s side ensured a repeat of the outcome of their semi-final against the Tigers back in May, and made it two straight defeats for their hosts at the start of the new campaign.

Sale were forced into a late change at full-back, with Tom O’Flaherty coming in for Joe Carpenter and the visitors were further rocked by conceding the game’s opening try after eight minutes.

From a ruck, Tom Whiteley fed Jamie Shillcock, whose quick pass allowed Mike Brown, denied by an excellent Du Preez tackle not long before, to finish from a few metres out.

Shillcock failed to convert and the Sharks responded immediately when Gus Warr’s off-load found a galloping Ernst van Rhyn and the back rower timed his pass to send Tom Roebuck under the posts, making Du Preez’s conversion a formality.

The fly-half sent a penalty from 40 metres wide soon after and Sale then had a ‘try’ from O’Flaherty ruled out for a knock-on at the breakdown by Nick Schonert in the build-up.

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But the visitors were able to make the most of a sustained spell of pressure when Van Rhyn was adjudged to have touched down after a TMO check, Du Preez adding the extras.

It was then the Tigers’ turn to hit back quickly when captain Hanro Liebenberg barged his way over from close range, with Shillcock’s conversion reducing the gap to 14-12 at half-time.

A simple penalty from Du Preez took Sale’s lead back out to five points early in the second half, a gap that remained after Hassell-Collins knocked on in-goal having got to Shillcock’s kick down the left wing first.

However, Hassell-Collins was able to score just after the hour mark, shrugging off O’Flaherty’s tackle to level the match after he had been put into space by Joe Powell, Shillcock pushing his conversion wide.

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Sale almost regained the lead four minutes later when Sam James gathered Sam Bedlow’s pass, only to be held up by a posse of Leicester forwards.

But there was no denying Du Preez in the 69th minute as he took Raffi Quirke’s pass before dummying and going clear to score a try he converted himself under the posts.

Arron Reed almost made the game safe when he knocked on after being tackled by Dan Kelly, but Sale held out for what was a deserved victory.

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