Leicester Tigers gained a second win of the season with a 19-15 triumph over Sale Sharks at Welford Road on Sunday.
A try from Marland Yarde have Sharks the lead after just five minutes, but Kyle Eastmond linked with centre partner Gareth Owen to claim his first score for Tigers less than 10 minutes later. They were the only tries of the half as Tiger reached the break 13-5 in front.
It was nip-and-tuck in the second period, though, as George Ford kept Tigers in front despite two more Sharks tries, one coming with the last attack of the game.
After defeat against Worcester Warriors at Welford Road in Round 4, Tigers were looking to bounce back quickly but the Sharks were also desperately seeking points after one with in their opening four games and only one win in Leicester since 2008.
Interim head coach Geordan Murphy brought Kyle Eastmond and Adam Thompstone into the backline in place of the injured Manu Tuilagi and John Holmes, who reverted to the replacements’ bench, while Ben White made his first Premiership start at scrum-half. Ross McMillan was named among the replacements for his first appearance as a Tigers player.
Sharks were forced into a late change with the withdrawal of fly-half AJ MacGinty. Sam James moved into the No10 shirt, with Luke James coming into the backline at centre.
Tigers kicked off and immediately scored a turnover as they snatched back ball from the Sharks catcher. But they were kept on the 10-metre line through a set of phases efore the visitors won a penalty at the breakdown.
And Sharks made the breakthrough with just five minutes played, keeping ball through phases and, after being closed down five metres out on the left, kept the ball alive to create an easy run-in for Yarde in the other corner. Scrum-half Will Cliff’s conversion hit the post but Sharks were 5-0 in front.
Yarde threatened another break om halfway moments later before Guy Thompson took him down by the ankles, but the opening 10 minutes were dominated by the Sharks in possession.
The home crowd had something to get its teeth into on 13 minutes though when carries from David Denton, Mike Williams and Jonny May had the Sharks defence back-pedalling, and Tigers kept their composure in the attacking zone to celebrate as Gareth Owen offloaded for Eastmond to score. Ford added the conversion as Tigers led 7-5.
Quick thinking at a lineout near halfway got Tigers going forward again, and when they set up an attacking lineout on the right, Sharks were penalised, giving Tigers another opportunity. Ford kicked into the corner, Graham Kitchener made the catch and set up the forwards to inch towards the line. But when play reached the centre of the pitch, Tigers lost control and Sharks were handed a penalty five metres from their own line.
Kitchener stole the ensuing lineout inside Sale territory and Tigers stayed there until referee Craig Maxwell-Keys penalised Sale in defence and Ford pointed to the posts. His kick from the 10-metre line sailed through the posts to make it 10-5 with 25 minutes played.
A superb turnover by Thompson inside his own 22 gave Tigers a chance to counter-attack and May took play almost up to halfway, dragging one defender with him for several metres before the covering defence took him down and forced the ball free in contact.
Good pressure in defence from Tigers appeared to be rewarded with a try for May on 29 minutes, but the TMO brought attention back to the turnover won on halfway by Ford and a forward pass to the wing on the left.
Play restarted, though, with a Tigers scrum from the Sharks knock-on and they tried again before the whistle went again for a Thompson knock-on.
White, in his first Premiership start, was replaced on the half-hour with a leg injury, throwing Ben Youngs back into the action.
Greg Bateman was penalised at the next scrum and Sharks went for goal but Cliff dragged his kick wide.
Tigers looked to capitalise quickly as Thompstone’s kick-chase put pressure on Yarde and won a lineout just 10 metres out, but ball fell loose in the centre of the pitch as the forwards looked to build some pressure.
Ben Curry joined twin brother Tom in the Sharks back row as skipper Jono Ross went off for a head injury assessment just before half-time but, as Sale adjusted, they were penalised at a scrum 20 metres out and Ford knocked over the three-pointer for a 13-5 lead.
Sharks were called for a forward pass on halfway with the clock entering the last 90 seconds of the opening period but Tigers lost possession at the base and the visitors had to put-in for a second set-piece. Kitchener and Williams then combined in defence to push Sharks back as the whistle brought play to an end at 13-5 in Tigers’ favour.#
Good work at the breakdown from Tom Curry gave Sale a platform for attack at the start of the second half, Cliff putting his kick into the left-hand corner as they pushed \Tigers back. But just as they manufactured a chance under the posts, a knock-on rescued the Tigers rearguard. Tigers were also awarded a free-kick at the scrum and Ford thumped his kick up to halfway.
Referee \Maxwell-Keys took a tumble as Ben Youngs looked to break from a scrum, but Tigers had the penalty and kicked down the right touchline. Sale were whistled again at the lineout and Ford turned down a kick at goal to keep play in the corner.
The decision did not pay off, though, as Sharks wrapped up ball even as they were pushed back.
Tigers looked to have the push on at the resultant scrum too, but the referee thought otherwise and called a penalty in Sale’s favour.
The visitors returned to the Tigers 22 and Ford was penalised fort a high tackle called by the referee’s assistant just five metres out. Sale stayed in the corner and had another penalty when the maul was brought down short of the line. This time, they messed up their lines at the throw and Sione Kalamafoni was able to regain possession.
A clever kick down the right from Eastmond beat the Sharks defence but just evaded Owen, and full-back Byron McGuigan was able to pick up and kick into touch behind his own line.
Tom Curry won another penalty at the breakdown as Thompstone chased back into his own 22, and fron the lineout they claimed a second try from the driving maul, with Rob Webber on the ball.
Cliff missed the kick from left of the posts but the Tigers’ lead was down to three points at 13-10.
When Sale were penalised at a tackle near halfway, Ford judged his kick into the left-hand corner to perfection, but Tigers failed to gather at the set-piece and Cliff cleared his lines. The kick only reached 10 metres from his own line, but again Sharks managed to disrupt the lineout.
Tigers stayed in enemy territory, though, with Eastmond trying to feed the outside backs, but Sharks were penalised in front of the posts and Ford had an easy chance to make it 16-10.
Valentino Mapapalangi made his seasonal debut as a replacement for the hard-weorking Denton as the game reached its final 20 minutes.
Sharks threatened a vital score as they retained possession close-in, before being penalised in possession just under the posts with Thompson and Mapapalangi on top of the ball.
Joe Heyes and Harry Wells emerged as late replacements for Cole and Kitchener, but Tigers were again victims of the referee’s whistle in contact near halfway. Thankfully, they missed touch with the penalty and Ford kicked clear.
But it was a nervy spell and Tigers were thankful for Ford’s work in defence, ripping ball from McGuigan, and then from Kalalmafoni with a bit hit on Yarde.
Thompson then got on to the ball in the tackle zone on halfway to earn another penalty to the back-row. The offence was just inside his own half but Ford called for the tee and aced the kick the finally provide some breathing room at 19-10 with four minutes remaining.
Sharks threatened in the right-hand corner and were playing with advantage when Sam James put in a crosskick which beat their players on the left. Play came back to the opposite corner as the injured Owen was replaced by Jonah Holmes.
From the lineout, they steered play into the corner and replacement hooker Curtis Langdon dotted down. With only 40 seconds left on the clock, McGuigan missed his kick but the gap was down to four points and the referee blew up for full-time after Ford had got the game restarted.
Thank you for your support
Thank you to all of the Tigers Family for your support today, in the stadium and following on Matchday Live.
Next home game
The next game here at Welford Road is in the Heineken Champions Cup, when Scarlets are the visitors. Match tickets are on sale now. Meanwhile, there's a small matter of an East Midlands derby at Twickenham next week and a testimonial for Rob Horne.
The players are staying on the pitch as Manu Tuilagi is recognised for his 100th start for Tigers and Dan Cole is recognised for reaching 200 appearances for the club. Well done boys.
LeoVegas Fans' Favourite
Well done to Kyle Eastmond, who wins the vote for the LeoVegas Fans' Favourite after scoring his first try for the Tigers. Well played Kyle.
Tigers move up a couple of places in the Gallagher Premiership table with that win, to join the pack of teams concertinaed on 13 points.
It's all over
There is just enough time for the restart, and Ford cleverly knocks it long. It goes untouched and that is the game. Tigers win 19-15. Well done boys.
Sale score again
Sale have their third try. It's through their replacement hooker Curtis Langdon, as he joins in the driving maul to rumble over. The conversion is missed.
Tigers under pressure
Tigers are all hands to the pump on their line as Sale send wave after wave down on their defence. Heyes concedes a penalty for offside. Meanwhile, owen is off clutching his ribs and Jonah Holmes is on.
is that the game?
Ford lands a monster penalty from inside his own half to move Tigers 19-10 ahead. Welford Road enjoyed that one!
Another Thompson turnover
That's at least turnover number three for Guy Thompson, as he wins the penalty on halfway. Ford points to the posts ...
Sam James can only pick out Thompstone with his kick. He shifts the ball inside for Ford, who finds touch on halfway.
Heyes is on for his home debut. Wells also on, in place of Kitchener. And McMillan finds Wells at his first lineout, but Tigers are whistled and Sale have the penalty.
Relief for the Tigers
Tigers are under huge pressure in their 22. Thompson latches on to the ball and wins a huge turnover under the posts. Top work Guy.
Valentino Mapapalangi is on for his first appearance of the season, replacing Denton.
Tigers back on the attack
Tigers stay in the Sale 22, where they win the penalty decision for hands in the ruck. Ford lands an easy penalty to extend their lead to 16-10.
Tigers deep in Sale territory
Ross and Curry compete to conceded the penalty, which Ford punts to within 6m. But McMillan can't find his man and Sale clear. But they can only make 10m.
Cliff misses another kick as he drags his conversion across the face of the posts. Play restarts with David Feao on for Bateman in the Leicester front row.
Try for the Sharks
Ross, fresh from winning the penalty, claims the lineout ball. Sale control the maul and eventually drive over for Webber to claim the try.
Mix-up between Thompstone and Olowofela in defence allows Yarde to snare Thommo. Ross joins in to win the penalty turnover.
McGuigan magic for Sale
Eastmond puts in a lovely kick for Owen to chase. He kicks into the in-goal area where McGuigan buys a yard from Owen and somehow finds touch 30m out. Excellent play from the Sale full-back.
Ross McMillan is coming on for his debut, replacing Tom Youngs. Youngs's last action was to put in a huge tackle that brings a knock-on and a put-in for Tigers.
Thompson talking it up
Rob Webber goes off target with the lineout, and Thompson loves it as he encourages his fellow forwards to keep it up. Go again Tigers.
Tigers breathe again
Tigers drag down the maul, and Sale have another advantage. Thompson steals possession but play comes back for the penalty lineout. Great work by Kalamafoni steals the ball at the back and Ben Youngs finds touch 35m out. Good 'D' boys!
Tigers tested in defence
Tigers repel 17 Sale phases to keep their line intact. But Ford is whistled for a high tackle as he rides the Sale runner. Tigers have another 5m lineout to defend ...
Penalty against Tigers
Tigers shove Sale off their ball, but somehow Sale get the penalty call as the scrum goes to ground. The Terrace seem unimpressed.
Tigers get the nudge on at the lineout, but can't get the ball out as the maul goes to ground. Sale to put the ball in on their 5m line.
Tigers 5m lineout
Another penalty against Sale, and Ford goes to the corner. Rohan Janse Van Rensburg and James Phillips on for Sale as we wait for the throw.
Maxwell-Keys makes the tackle!
Tigers have the scrum penalty advantage, Youngs darts and Thompstone has room to run into ... the only problem is that Sir is in that channel. Maxwell-Keys dusts himself down with a smile. Ford to the corner with the restart.
Tigers digging in
Olowofela can't gather a bouncing ball in his 22, but it buys him time to beat Yarde and run 15m upfield. Ben Youngs then launches a box kick that McGuigan knocks-on. It's not a classic but Tigers are digging in.
What a kick!
Tigers get the free-kick at the scrum under their posts and Ford gives it an all-mighty whack to take play up to halfway.
... Sale build up a head of steam from the lineout. Tigers looked stretched as Bateman makes the tackle under the posts but Cliff knocks on as he tries to make the most of an overlap developing on the right. Tigers breathe again.
Sale go to the corner
Tom Curry wins the holding-on penalty against Kalamafoni. Sale turn down the three-pointer and go to the corner. Ross collects the throw ...
LeoVegas Fan Favourite
Voting is now open for the LeoVegas Fan Favourite for today's game exclusively on the Tigers app.
We're back for the second half
The two teams are out, and we're ready for the second period. Sale kick-off with Tigers attacking the Mattioli Woods Stand end.
Keep it up Tigers
A scrappy first-half comes to an end with a bit of a scrap on the far side with a bit of handbags between the two packs. Tigers lead 13-5 through Kyle Eastmond's try, plus a conversion and two penalties for George Ford.
Tigers scrum penalty
Ross, the Sale captain, comes off for an HIA and on comes Ben Curry. In the meantime, Bateman makes up for his handling error by winning the scrum penalty. Ford lands a simple penalty and Tigers lead 13-5.
Tigers pressure the Sale defence but lose the position on the edge of the Sharks 22 as Bateman can't collect Ben Youngs's pass.
Owen shows his smart rugby brain again, swooping on loose ball to give Ford the chance to kick into the corner. Yarde tries to shepherd it out but, under pressure from Thompstone, concedes the lineout.
Tigers scrum pinged
Bateman loses his bind and gives up the penalty. Cliff thinks about going to the corner before pointing to the posts. It proves the wrong decision as he pulls his kick wide. Tigers still lead 10-5.
Ben on for Ben
Ben Youngs is on at scrum-half for Ben White, who limps off with what looks like an ankle issue.
Graham Kitchener throws a wild pass that Tom Youngs does brilliantly to recover. But then Thompson takes his eye off the ball and knocks-on. Sale scrum 45m out.
Close, but no try!
What an offload from George Ford as he collects a knock-on on halfway. He finds May on his outside to put on the afterburners and score. But wait ... we're going to the TMO. No try. The pass was forward. Pity, it was brilliant thinking from Ford.
Great work by Thompson
Guy Thompson makes a wonderful turnover in the Leicester 22 and Tigers break. Olowofela finds May but he is stopped, just, by the fingertips of Luke James.
Tigers extend their lead
Ford ignores a ripple on the Welford Road PA and the accompanying murmur in the crowd to land a penalty from 40m. Tigers lead 10-5.
With a penalty advantage, Ford goes for broke with a chip over the on-rushing Sale defence. He can't gather, but play comes back for the kick at goal.
Penalty to Sale
Kitchener looks to be brought down in the lineout but the referee waves play-on. Denton makes ground but Greg Bateman loses possession and is then whistled for trying to retrieve the ball on the ground.
Sale are pinged as Andrei Ostrikov is thrown across the lineout. Ford puts it to within 5m. What have Tigers got here?
Tigers take a quick lineout on halfway and Owen boots into the Sale 22. With Tigers on the hunt, Byron McGuigan is forced into a quick to touch.
With White tackled as he sniped down the ruck, Dan Cole showed all of his experience after 85 international caps and more than 200 apperances by stepping in at scrum-half. And a nice pass to Tom Youngs too!
In the groove
Ford, who was at the heart of that try-scoring move, has found his kicking range too, kicking Leicester 60m upfield with a penalty from inside his 22.
More on the try
Owen found a half gap in the sale defence and freed his arms to get the pass for Eastmond to cross from 6m out. Lovely understanding from the pair. Ford converts and Tigers lead for the first time.
Tigers are level and it's great understanding from centres Owen and Kyle Eastmond, for the England man to score. Super try from Eastmond.
The first chant of Tiiggeerrss goes up as Tigers get the nudge on at the maul. Ford puts Mike Williams on a line towards the line but he's stopped 5m out. Tigers still with it ...
First reset scrum
... Tigers get it right at the reset and win the penalty as Ross Harrison loses his footing. Ford finds touch 30m out.
Tigers come under pressure at the game's first scrum. Sale look to have stolen possession but referee Craig Maxwell-Keys orders a reset.
Scrum-half Will Cliff, who is kicking in the absence of MacGinty, strikes the post and the ball bounces clear. Tigers trail 5-0.
Sale score the first points
Sale punish Tigers' mistakes as first Adam Thompstone and Olowofela misjudge high balls. It puts Tigers on the back-foot and Marland Yarde pounces to score on the right.
Good defensive set
After Tigers' well-publicised defensive issues of recent week they 'D' up well in the first set and force the turnoveras Gareth Owen pounces on a loose ball.
Tigers on the attack
Tigers put together a series of phases around the Sale 10m line, but Jordan Olowofela is pinged for holding on and Sale kick into the Leicester half.
Ford launches the ball into the Leicester air and we are underway. And Tigers have possession from the kick-off for White to get a first feel of the ball.
George Ford will kick us off, with Tigers attacking the Robin Hood Stand at the Aylestone Road end of the ground.
Listen to that ROOOAAARRR!!!
A huge ROAR goes up around Welford Road for Tom Youngs and the Tigers team. Come on you boys, let's do this!
Here come the visitors
Sale Sharks, led by Jono Ross, take to the pitch first before Smoke on the Water pipes up around the stadium ...
All the best boys
Good luck to Ben White, who makes his first Gallagher Premiership start this afternoon. And good luck too, to Joe Heyes, who is set for his first home appearance after being named on the bench.
Hear from the gaffer
Interim head coach Geordan Murphy has spoken to LTTV ahead of kick-off in this afternoon's game against Sale.
The teams are are in. A change at 10 for Sale, who move Sam James to fly-half to replace AJ MacGinty, who has pulled out ahead of the game. Luke James comes in at 13.
Warming up nicely
The heat is rising inside the stadium as the Tigers squad go through their warm-up.
Welcome to Welford Road
Gallagher Premiership rugby is back at Welford Road this afternoon and it's another huge clash as Tigers entertain Sale Sharks.