Leicester Tigers were beaten at home for the first time this season when Sale Sharks scored four times in a 26-16 victory at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday.
Sale continued their winning run from the start of the campaign, taking five points in Round 5 of the Gallagher Premiership campaign as Tigers lost at home for the first time since June 2021 despite a try from Jasper Wiese on his first club appearance of the season.
Although Sale scored the opening try of the afternoon through Tom Roebuck, Tigers led 9-5 thanks to a trio of Freddie Burns penalties and then Jasper Wiese – in his first club appearance of the season after international commitments – barged over the tryline and the conversion stretched the lead to 11 points.
But Sharks responded with a converted try from fly-half Robert du Preez as just four points separated the teams at half-time and then stretched the lead with two more tries as they shut out Tigers for the full 40 minutes.
Wiese, who linked up opposite his brother Cobus, was joined in making a first appearance of the season by hooker Julián Montoya, while Anthony Watson made his home debut as a second-half replacement.
Sale had lost just one of their last seven meetings with the Tigers in Premiership Rugby as fly-half Robert du Preez got the game started and the visitors enjoyed some early attacking possession until Tigers worked their way out and a long diagonal kick from Freddie Burns took play up to the edge of the opposition 22 on four minutes.
Spilled ball from Sharks kept play in that area, and a break in broken field by Harry Potter had Sale scrambling back until they were penalised in defence and Freddie Burns kicked the opening points of the afternoon.
Tigers then blocked out a penalty into the corner from the restart but were unable to clear their lines fully and, when Sharks returned, they were playing with a penalty advantage again when wing Tom Roebuck forced his way past two tacklers in the corner to score. The conversion from Robert du Preez was just wide with the visitors 5-3 in front.
Obstruction as Harry Potter chased a high ball gave Burns another kick and he made it 6-5 before returning to defensive duties, sweeping up a chip into the corner after George Martin had made an important tackle to stop Akker van der Merwe.
Burns added a third three-pointer as the game entered its second quarter and Potter threatened on the left before the whistle went again, but Sharks hooked ball away when Tigers missed their lineout.
The bounce of a chip-kick from Wigglesworth evaded Burns in front of the posts, but Tigers made the most of the territory gains, staying upfield as Jimmy Gopperth went to the left and Potter beat two defenders before being caught by Tuilagi just short. Wiese, though, was there as he carried over the final metres to the tryline and Burns added the extras to make it 16-5 on the half-hour.
A knock-on at the restart, though, gave Sharks a scrum and Robert du Preez switched play to the blindside, creating a two-on-one and found his way to the tryline before adding the conversion for good measure.
Potter made a good catch of high ball under pressure near halfway and then managed to force off three tacklers as he retained possession and Montoya took defenders with him near the tryline until Sharks shut out further progress and then won a penalty to clear upfield.
The Tigers forwards started the second half positively with a scrum penalty and then a lineout drive from a defensive position, while also closing out a run by Manu Tuilagi as George Martin stepped in to make the tackle.
But Sharks stayed in the Tigers half and, when replacement scrum-half Raffi Quirke saw a gap, skipper Tom Curry was on his shoulder and ran in to score. It out his side in front on 49 minutes and the bonus-point try quickly followed as Ben Carpenter broke out and Quirke was on his shoulder to score on the left. Fly-half du Preez converted for a 10-point lead.
Moments later Tom O’Flaherty looked sure to add another as he broke through from inside his own half, but Freddie Steward chased him down and forced the ball loose too just 10 metres from the tryline.
A 50-22 kick from Burns took Tigers forward and then when he chipped ahead, Scott was just a fraction short of the line when he was wrapped up. Wiese and Harry Wells also went close to the decisive push for the line until the ball was stuck under a pile of bodies.
When play restarted with a five-metre scrum, Wiese again and Nadolo were in the thick of the action trying to find a way over the line before the whistle blew for a knock-on.
Tigers gained a penalty when aggressive defence outnumbered O’Flaherty near his own tryline, but Sharks fronted up to and kept the hosts out.
Watson made his home debut as a replacement in the last quarter of an hour, running on to the right wing as Scott made way and Potter moved into midfield.
A scrum penalty gave du Preez a sight of the posts on 71 minutes but his kick slipped wide of the posts and, when the whistle went again, this time the visiting fly-half turned down the shot to take the clock down by playing into the corner and Tigers were denied even a consolation point.