Du Preez overshadows Pollard in fine Sale victory
MATCH REPORT: Impressive Sale beat Leicester 40-5 to record a bonus point and notch a sixth home win out of seven in the Premiership.
The Sharks reduced the gap on leaders Saracens to five points as they ran in five tries for an eye-catching victory thanks to a combination of enterprising forward play and a water-tight defence.
Robert du Preez had an impressive night as he tallied up a try, two conversions and three penalties.
Defences were on top in the early stages of former scrum-half Wigglesworth’s return to Sale.
The hosts were forced to dig in hard to repel numerous Leicester mauls as the packed home crowd were gripped.
The first points of the contest were not registered until the 17th minute, and they came from the boot of Sale’s Robert du Preez following a high tackle.
Du Preez was deadly accurate from close in to secure a 3-0 advantage.
The Sharks continued to plug away, and after 25 minutes Du Preez notched another three-pointer from 25 metres after a set-piece.
Sale earned further reward after 32 minutes when Du Preez obliged with the boot again, stretching the advantage to nine points.
The hosts finally bagged a try five minutes before the break, when Tom O’Flaherty dived over by the posts following a neat offload from Luke James, and Du Preez’s routine conversion meant Sale went in with a healthy 16-0 lead.
The intense physicality from both teams continued in the early exchanges of the second period before Sale gifted Leicester their first points in the 47th minute.
Handre Pollard sauntered home after intercepting a loose pass, though the South African World Cup winner fired wayward with his conversion attempt.
It did not take long for Sale to respond.
Seven minutes later it was 23-5 after Simon McIntyre powered over from close range, with du Preez coolly adding the extras.
As the hour mark passed, time was beginning to run out for the Tigers.
Wigglesworth’s side were back on the offensive, but again the Sharks’ back-line was rock solid.
When Sale registered a penalty try with 13 minutes to go Leicester’s game was all but up.
The visitors collapsed another maul from the now dominant hosts, with the lead extended to 30-5.
Replacement Ewan Ashman’s late pushover try, and Du Preez’s score out wide, capped a brilliant night for Sale as the defending champions spiralled to a crushing loss.
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: O’Flaherty, McIntyre, penalty, Ashman, R du Preez
Cons: R du Preez 2
Pens: R du Preez 3
Sale Sharks: L James; Reed, S James, Tuilagi, O’Flaherty; R du Preez, Warr; McIntyre, Van der Merwe, Schonert, Wiese, Hill, T Curry, B Curry (capt), JL du Preez.
Replacements: Ashman, Harrison, Harper, Beuamont, Ross, Simpson, Curtis, McGuigan.
Leicester Tigers: Steward; Watson, Porter, Kelly, Potter; Pollard, van Poortvliet; Whitcombe, Clare, Cole, Wells, Chessum, Liebenberg (capt), Reffell, Cracknell.
Replacements: Oghre, Leatigaga, Heyes, Green, Jansen, Youngs, Burns, Ashton.