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Match report | Tigers suffer defeat at Sale

Figure image

Leicester Tigers were beaten 32-5 at Sale Sharks in Round 16 of the Gallagher Premiership season on Friday evening and lost back-rower Sione Kalamafoni to a red card midway through the second half.

Facundo Gigena’s first try in the Premiership gave Tigers an early lead, but Sharks came back to level the scores with 20 minutes gone on a cold and wet evening as lock Bryn Evans forced his way over from close range. They added a second through Denny Solomona just a few minutes later and held their 10-5 advantage at half-time.

The teams went into Friday’s contest tied on 34 points with Sharks in eighth place in the table and Tigers ninth, and it was the hosts who got the advantage in the second half, adding a third try before Tigers lost No8 Kalamafoni with more than 20 minutes still to play.

Three more scores followed, including a last-gasp penalty try as an injury-affected Tigers line-up emerged without reward for their efforts.

As well as the six players on duty with England, Geordan Murphy had to pick a Tigers team without Gareth Owen, Ben White and Sam Harrison, who were all hurt in the win over Wasps in Round 15, and he had only two backs among the replacements. Harry Simmons at scrum-half and wing Leonardo Sarto were starting a Premiership fixture for the first time.

Murphy was forced into another change when George Worth, due to start at centre, pulled up in the warm-up 15 minutes before kick-off. Sam Aspland-Robinson moved to the No13 shirt with Jordan Olowofela coming in on the wing. Freddie Steward, a member of the club’s Under-18 League winners for the last two seasons, earned a late call to the bench.

Sharks, with just two defeats in the last eight league games, got the game underway just as the rainfall increased on a chilly evening in the North-West but Tigers settled well and got off the mark with a try from Gigena who just did enough from close range to force his way over after a 30-metre break on the left from Olowofela had given the forwards sight of the tryline.

Referee Matthew Carley checked the replays and was satisfied the Argentine prop had reached the whitewash but Joe Ford, with the wind troubling the ball on the tee, was off target with the conversion.

From the restart, Tigers were unable to fully exit their 22 and then conceded a penalty at the breakdown. Faf De Klerk, though, shot wide of the left-hand post.

A series of scrums littered the next five minutes of play but Tigers had an escape when James O’Connor looked to get on the end of a cheeky little kick from fly-half Sam James, only for the ball to escape him almost within reach of the tryline.

Tigers, though, were pinned back and having to work hard in defence. Guy Thompson won ball on the floor to repel one attack and then Jonah Holmes had to dot down behind his own line, allowing Sharks the put-in from a five-metre scrum.

This time, Sharks got their reward with a try from Evans which provided the added blow of a yellow card for Ford as he slapped ball out of Sale hands on his own line. De Klerk missed again with the conversion with the scores tied at 5-5 on 22 minutes.

Sharks came straight back to add another five minutes later through Denny Solomona in the corner, awarded by referee Matthew Carley after checking the grounding. He also looked at a tackle in midfield by Joe Heyes but took no more action as De Klerk pushed his kick across the posts with his team 10-5 in front on 28 minutes.

Tigers recovered to play through phases of possession in attack but missed an opportunity when they were handed a penalty 30 metres out. With Ford still off the pitch, they went to touch but could not set up a drive.

Sale then thought they’d added a third score when James gathered a chargedown from Ford’s attempted clearance, but replays showed he had been in an offside position and half-time arrived with the home side still five points in front.

Play remained in the middle third of the field for the opening 10 minutes of the second period until wing Arron Reed’s break took Sale up to the tryline. The forwards finished the work after three more phases, prop Valery Morozov making the final push to stretch the advantage to 10 points at 15-5 as De Klerk missed another conversion attempt.

Solomona’s big hit on Holmes as he fielded a high kick forced ball loose and gave Sharks an attacking scrum on their right flank. They quickly transferred ball to the left but the kick in behind from O’Connor was too far for Reed to gather.

Tigers, though, were soon down to 14 men when Kalamafoni was red-carded as he cleared out Josh Beaumont at a ruck, referee Carley saying “shoulder to the head” as he check the replays.

Sale kept the ball close to the tryline, meeting defiant defence through half a dozen phases before Olowofela held up Solomona as he tried to score in the corner.

Relief was short-lived, though, as Sharks used their scrum to claim a fourth try with Josh Beaumont making the final touch. De Klerk missed the conversion with Sharks 20-5 ahead.

De Klerk received a yellow card as he took out Olowofela in the air soon after the restart and Ford’s kick to the left gave Tigers a rare chance in opposition territory. A second whistle followed, taking Tigers another 10 metres closer. Williams took the catch but the maul drove infield rather than advancing to the line and finally fell almost under the posts.

Tigers still had possession, however, with put-in at the scrum, but ball was lost when Reed ripped it in a tackle near the right touchline.

Strong work in defence snuffed out another Sharks chance as Ford and Holmes brought down Evans, then Olowofela stopped the dangerous Solomona.

Sale continued to use of their numeric advantage as they pushed Tigers back and De Klerk burst over from a five-metre scrum for a fifth try. As he left the field, Cameron Redpath missed the conversion but Sharks were 25-5 up.

Steward made his Premiership debut in the closing minutes, with Olowofela making way, and he immediately had to field a difficult kick over his shoulder to dot down behind his own line.

Time was up as the scrum set and with Tigers backpedalling, referee Carley awarded a penalty try in the final action of the game.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

SAL 10-5 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

SAL 32-5 LEI




Matthew Carley

Sale Sharks
Sale Sharks

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers

Match Stats

Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers
Penalties Conceded
Yellow Cards
Red Cards
Tackles Won
105/131 80%
108/128 84%
Scrums Won
15/15 100%
10/11 91%
Lineouts Won
9/10 90%
13/14 93%

Player Stats

Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
15Jonah Holmes
14Leonardo Sarto
13Sam Aspland-Robinson
12Kyle Eastmond
11Jordan Olowofela
10Joe Ford
9Harry Simmons
1Facundo Gigena1T
2Tom Youngs
3Joe Heyes
4Will Spencer
5Graham Kitchener
6Mike Williams
7Guy Thompson
8Sione Kalamafoni
16Jake Kerr
17Campese Ma'afu
18David Fe'ao
19Harry Wells
20Will Evans
21Sam Lewis
23Freddie Steward



Thanks For Your Support

Thank you to those members of the #TigersFamily who made it up to Sale this evening to support the boys, and for those of you following on Matchday Live.

Tigers now have a week's break before returning to Welford Road for a Round 17 Premiership clash against Northampton Saints on Friday, March 22.

Full Time At The AJ Bell

Sale 32-5 Tigers

Penalty Try

Sale look to push the scrum over, but as it splinters referee Matthew Carley runs under the posts to award a penalty try, and that's the match.


On The Tigers Line

Sale look to put the young Steward under pressure immediately, but he gathers the ball well under pressure and touches down over the try line to give Sale and five metre scrum.

Sale Replacement

Denny Solomona is off, replaced by Paolo Odogwu.

Steward On For Prem Debut

Tigers academy player Freddie Steward replaces Jordan Olowofela to make his Gallagher Premiership debut.

Sale Replacements

Cameron Neild and Gus Warr replace Josh Beaumont and Faf de Klerk.


Conversion Missed

The conversion is missed.

De Klerk Scores

Tigers hold strong in the scrum, but De Klerk picks and goes from the base and just about gets the ball down for 25-5.

Tigers Replacement

Tom Hardwick is on for Joe Ford.


Sale Push On

Sale have kick on a gear in the last coupe of minutes, and are now pushing deep into Tiger territory.

Leicester give away a penalty five metres out, and there's a bit of pushing and shoving from both teams.

Tigers Replacement

Sam Lewis comes on to replace Mike Williams in the Tigers pack.


Faf Returns

Faf de Klerk is back on the field after 10 minutes in the sin bin.

Tigers Replacement

Campese Ma'afu is on for Facundo Gigena.


Fast and Furious

That must be the longest passage of play we've enjoyed all evening.

Sale look dangerous with the ball, but David Feao thinks fast to turnover the ball on the floor. Once the ball makes it back into Sale hands, Olowofela does a great job to stop Solomona on the left and we have another scrum.

Tigers Replacement

Guy Thompson, who has put in an absolute shift this evening, is replaced by Will Evans in the Tigers back row.

Sale Replacements

Rob Webber and James Phillips are replaced by Curtis Langdon and Matt Postlethwaite.


Olowofela Beyond The Ball

The visitors ship the ball across to Jordan Olowofela, who is just beyond the pass. Sale scrum.


Fast, Fluid Play

Aspland-Robinson makes a half-break as he pops up on the opposite wing. Sarto drops the ball into touch, but this is the most promising passage of play Tigers have shown all game.


Tigers Try To Play Quickly

Tigers try to play quickly from the scrum, but the ball is spilled on the far side and Sale come away with it.

Sam James kicks to touch on halfway, but Holmes takes a quick lineout to keep the ball in play.


Kick To Corner

Tigers kick to the corner and gather the lineout, but there's a high tackle and Ford takes the opportunity to pin Sale back on their five metre line once again.

The away side set up the driving maul from the second lineout,  but the ball goes to ground just in front of the posts. Carley calls the ball unplayable and so Tigers have the scrum, right on the Sale line.

De Klerk Yellow Card

Tigers chip ahead after gathering the restart, but Olowofela is taken in the air by Faf de Klerk, who receives a yellow card.

Sale Replacement

Cameron Redpath replaces Luke James.

Tigers Replacements

Tom Youngs and Will Spencer are replaced by Jake Kerr and Harry Wells.

Sale Replacement

Tom Bristow is on for Valery Morozov in the Sale front row.


Conversion Missed

Faf de Klerk misses the conversion.

Sale Try

Sale go for the big push at scrum time, and Josh Beaumont splinters from the back to score his side's fourth and make it 20-5.

Tigers Replacement

David Feao is on for Joe Heyes.


Held Up Over The Line

Sale try and make their one-man advantage count immediately, but Tigers won't have it.

The home side recycle the ball time after time to no avail, and try and get the ball out to Solomona on the nearside. Olowofela does brilliantly to hold up man and ball over the line, so we'll have a five metre scrum.

Red Card!

Sione Kalamafoni is shown a red card after referee Matthew Carley looks at replays of a clear out on the far side.


Deep In Tiger Territory

Sale get the ball out of the scrum quickly once again, and this time is Arron Reed released on the left hand side. He kicks ahead, but excellent cover from Jordan Olowofela means the ball is kicked dead.

We're still inside the Tigers 22 as the game gets back udnerway.


Knock On Under High Ball

After some more scrum resets, De Klerk box kicks high into the air. Holmes thinks he's got it, but a Solomona tackle spills the ball and we're back for more scrummaging.

Neither team can string together more than a couple of phases at the moment.


Conversion Missed

The ball hangs high in the air, and the kick is missed.

Sale Try

De Klerk digs the ball out of the scrum, and the Sharks push on up in midfield. Tigers initially hold them back on the line, but it's Valery Morozov who crosses the whitewash to make it 15-5 to the hosts.


Tigers Press On

Tigers know the next score could be crucial, and they're playing with a real hunger out there. Eastmond makes a half-break in midfield, but Kalamafoni is unlucky to knock on just a couple of phases later. Sale scrum.

Sale Replacement

Will Griff John is off for a HIA, replaced by Joe Jones.


Breaking The Line

Conditions have really cleared up here at the AJ Bell, and it's allowing Tigers to put the ball through hands.

Sale are doing their best to match the visitors at the physical contest, though, and there are a few tired lungs out there as Sarto is tackled into touch just beyond halfway.


Brief Break In Play

Both teams have come out firing in this second half, and after an early Tigers lineout there are some big hits going in. We stop briefly for treatment to a Sale player, before restarting with a Tigers scrum.

Holmes clears really well, with a kick that sits up just on the tryline, and James is forced into a clearing kick of his own. Tigers lineout on the five metre line.

Second Half Underway

Joe Ford gets us underway in this second half.

Half Time

Sale 10-5 Tigers


Kick Tennis

Simmons digs the ball out of a solid Tigers scrum, and grubber kicks through on this nearside for Jonah Holmes. Luke James gathers, and engages Joe Ford in a spot of kick tennis.

But Sale chase really well, and think they've charged down in the corner. Carley checks with TMO Graham Hughes, but the player was offside and Tigers win the ball back. Phew.


Sale Sharks Break

The hosts thought they were through, then, after taking the ball at the lineout. But RJ van Rensburg knocks on and we're back where we started this passage of play, with a scrum on halfway.


Ford Kicks On

Tigers take the lineout, and win the advantage after the hosts are pinged for side entry.

We initially play on, but Matthew Carley brings play back for the initial penalty and Ford kicks beyond halfway.


Tigers Recover

Sale once again ship the ball quickly out of the scrum, this time onto the right wing where Solomna lays in wait once again.

The referee calls maul as he's held up in the tackle, and as it's no longer playable Tigers end up with the feed at the next scrum.

The visitors pluck the ball out, recycle the ball well, and win another penalty. Joe Ford, who has just returned from his yellow card, kicks beyond the 22 for a lineout.


Sale Surge Forward

Sale look to use the ball quickly out of the scrum, and kick ahead back on this nearside. Olowofela initially gathers on the floor, but the ball just escapes his fingertips and we've got another knock on, and *another* scrum.


Knock On At The Lineout

The ball still resembles a bar of soap out there, and Thompson is unlucky to knock on as Tigers look to form the rolling maul. Scrum to Sale.


Huge Hits

Tigers truck the ball up, and work their way up the field, metre by metre.

Sale hooker Rob Webber is pinged by Matthew Carley for slowing down the ball in what would usually be kickable range, but in the conditions Tigers decide to kick to the corner through Simmons.


Conversion Missed

The wind hasn't abated, though, and De Klerk's kick fades scross the front of goal.

Sale Score A Second

The rain has eased for the moment, and Sale make the most of it to put the ball through the hands. Denny Solomona pops up on this left side to dot the ball down and, after a check with the TMO, the try is awarded for 10-5 to the hosts.


Conversion Missed

De Klerk doesn't manage to add the extras, so the score is pinned at 5-5.

Yellow Card For Tigers

Joe Ford is yellow carded for the deliberate knock on.

Sale Try

De Klerk digs the ball out the back of the scrum, and Joe Ford goes for the interception with one hand. Bryn Evans picks up the loose ball and scores his side's first try of the night, 5-5.


Sale Run The Phases

Sale put together the longest run of phases of the match so far, but big hits from Sione Kalamafoni and Guy Thompson mean they're not making much ground.

De Klerk puts in a chip for Arron Reed on this near side, but Jonah Holmes is there to gather. We restart with a five metre scrum.


Ball Spilled

These conditions aren't quite conducive to running rugby at the moment, and it's showing.

Tigers hold strong at the scrum, and Leonardo Sarto chases a speculative box kick from Harry Simmons, who's had a solid game so far. Sale spill the ball, though, and the ball goes out for another lineout.


Tigers Hold Strong

The scrum is reset *again*, but this time Sale come away with the ball. The Tigers line hold strong, and so the home side try to find a way through on their left wing.

Sam James makes a break, and does his best to feed James O'Connor, but the Australian knocks on ahead of the line as Olowofela and Holmes were sprinting across to cover.


Sale Pinged At The Scrum

Sale get pinged at the next reset, and Joe Ford boots the ball up from the free kick for a lineout just inside the visitors' half.

The Sharks steal the lineout, but De Klerk knocks on and we're down for another scrum. 


Reset Scrums

Tigers once again take the ball from the kick off, but as Olowofela tries to make another trademark break up his left wing, he knocks the ball on.

We scrum down, but Carley is keen to get this right and we reset three times before the ball is eventually shipped out on Leicester's side.


De Klerk Misses

Tigers take the restart well and kick for territory, but as Sale come back at the Leicester line skipper Tom Youngs puts in a massive hit.

Matthew Carley adjudges him not to have released the player, though, and De Klerk points to the posts. His kick is just wide, to the left.


Conversion Missed

After resetting the ball onto the tee, Joe Ford just slices the ball wide in the wind. Tigers lead 0-5.

Gigena Scores!

Jordan Olowofela makes a tasty break down the left wing, and is stopped just short of the line. But the ball is recycled well, and after a check with the TMO it's Facundo Gigena who gets the ball onto the whitewash for his first try in Tigers colours.


Pass Into Touch

After a Tigers lineout goes awry, Sale have a scrum just inside their own half. De Klerk looks to release his outside backs, but has passed into touch and we;re set for the fourth lineout of the match inside four minutes...


Early Tigers Pressure

Two early lineouts help Tigers into Sharks territory, with an early scrum on the home side's 22. This weather is absolutely filthy, though, and De Klerk boots the ball into the stands to relieve the pressure.

Kick Off At Sale

...and we're underway! Faf de Klerk boots the ball into a soaking Salford night to kick off the game.


Teams Are Out

Tom Youngs leads Tigers, in their white and purple alternate kit, onto the field here in Salford. We're just moment away from kick off in this latest round of Premiership action!


Late Change For Tigers

George Worth has pulled up in the warm-up, so there are a couple of tweaks to the announced team.

Sam Aspland-Robinson shifts from 11 to outside centre and Jordan Olowofela comes off the bench to start on the left wing.

Freddie Steward comes onto the bench, wearing 23.


Welcome To Matchday Live!

Welcome to Matchday Live from the AJ Bell Stadium, where Tigers take on Sale in Round 16 of the Gallagher Premiership this evening.

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

Luke James
Denny Solomona
James O'Connor
Rohan Janse van Rensburg
Arron Reed
Sam James
Faf de Klerk
Valery Morozov
WillGriff John
Bryn Evans
James Phillips
Jono Ross
Ben Curry
Josh Beaumont


Curtis Langdon
Tom Bristow
Joe Jones
Matt Postlethwaite
Cameron Neild
Gus Warr
Cameron Redpath
Paolo Odogwu

Match preview | Tigers at Sale this Friday evening

Guy Thompson and Adam Thompstone combine in defence during the first of this season's meetings with the Sharks
Guy Thompson and Adam Thompstone combine in defence during the first of this season's meetings with the Sharks

Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks go into Round 16 of the Gallagher Premiership season at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday evening level in the league table on 34 points.

Sharks, in eighth place, have seven wins and seven defeats alongside one draw so far this season while Tigers, one place further back, have won six times but have picked up 10 bonus points across 15 games so far.

In team news announced on Thursday, head coach Geordan Murphy has had to shuffle the Tigers backline following injuries to Gareth Owen, Ben White and Sam Harrison, while Dan Cole is among six players away on England duty at the Six Nations. Harry Simmons and Leonardo Sarto start in Premiership rugby for the first time.

Murphy said: “It’s been a difficult block for us without some senior players, some guys who were injured, two games on artificial surfaces and a six-day turnaround to a home game, so it certainly stretches us. But we had a good win last week. As I said at the end, there were a thousand reasons why you could make excuses for losing but we just kept grafting and kept getting stuck in.

“Now we’ve got some more really big games coming up, and Sale will be the start of that. Sale have built a quality side and they’ve been pretty impressive at home over the last couple of seasons.”

Sharks recall Josh Beaumont in the back row while Arron Reed deputises on the wing for Byron McGuigan who is away with Scotland. Tigers academy graduate Paolo Odogwu is among the replacements alongside Matt Postlethwaite who steps up as cover for Josh Strauss who starts in the Scotland back row against Wales this weekend. One-time Tigers prop Tom Bristow is also named in the 23.

Sale have lost just twice in the last eight rounds in the Gallagher Premiership, though both of those defeats have come in the last three games.

Tigers beat Wasps 19-14 last Saturday but have not won successive league games since Rounds 5 and 6. The team’s last away win on a Premiership ground was at Sale in Round 22 last season, with the only win on their travels since then coming at Twickenham against Northampton back in October.

Overall the clubs have met on 95 previous occasions, with Tigers winning 67 times, including the last four Premiership encounters.  Last season's meeting in the North-West resulted in a 35-13 victory for the Tigers with tries from Jonah Holmes (2), George Ford and Mike Williams

Match referee is Matthew Carley, in charge for the 82nd time in Premiership rugby.

Tigers will wear the club’s alternate white and purple kit at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Any supporters travelling to the game should be aware that car-parking at the AJ Bell is now prepaid only at a cost of £8.00 per vehicle. This is bookable online by clicking here. There is no pay at the ground.

Kick-off is at 8.00pm and the game is not scheduled for live broadcast by BT Sport. You can keep up to date with all of the action using the Tigers Matchday Live service on the club website, mobile website and official app. Or follow the club’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Team news | Tigers away to Sale Sharks

Harry Simmons makes his first appearance of the season and Leonard Sarto starts a Gallagher Premiership fixture for the first time as Leicester Tigers face Sale Sharks on Friday evening.

Scrum-half Simmons has returned to full fitness from a knee injury and starts following injury to both Ben White and Sam Harrison in the win over Wasps last weekend, while Italy international Sarto came off the bench in that fixture and is included on the wing as Jonah Holmes moves to full-back.

Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy pairs George Worth and Kyle Eastmond at centre with Gareth Owen ruled out after a head injury last weekend.

There is only one change in the pack where England Under-20s prop Joe Heyes steps up to start with Dan Cole on England duty at the Six Nations.

Head coach Murphy said: “We had a good win last week in the face of adversity and we need to go up there and get our stuff right and try to build on some of the positive things we did last weekend.

“We’ve got some key players away and also suffered a number of injuries last week which means we’ve been pretty thin in terms of numbers. It’s tough going, but that’s life and it’s an opportunity for others to show what they can do.”

Leicester Tigers (v Sale Sharks, away, Friday 8.00pm)

15 Jonah Holmes

14 Leonardo Sarto

13 George Worth

12 Kyle Eastmond

11 Sam Aspland-Robinson

10 Joe Ford

9 Harry Simmons

1 Facundo Gigena

2 Tom Youngs (c)

3 Joe Heyes

4 Will Spencer

5 Graham Kitchener

6 Mike Williams

7 Guy Thompson

8 Sione Kalamafoni


16 Jake Kerr

17 Campese Ma’afu

18 David Feao

19 Harry Wells

20 Will Evans

21 Sam Lewis

22 Tom Hardwick

23 Jordan Olowofela

Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James; 14 Denny Solomona, 13 James O’Connor, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Arron Reed; 10 Sam James, 9 Faf de Klerk; 1 Valery Morozov, 2 Rob Webber, 3 WillGriff John, 4 Bryn Evans, 5 James Phillips, 6 Jono Ross (c), 7 Ben Curry, 8 Josh Beaumont.

Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 James Jones, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Paolo Odogwu


posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
Sale Sharks
Sale SharksSAL221129462504-4252623455
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI227015478632-15447815841
Form Guide
Last Match
Lost to Harlequins 3-36
Past Meeting
Won 24-17
Last Match
Past Meeting
Last Match
Beat Newcastle Falcons 47-3
Past Meeting
Lost 17-24

Matchday Live

Sale Sharks32
Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers5
Leicester Tigers
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