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Report | Sharks fight back to beat Tigers

Leicester Tigers suffered only a second defeat of the season as Sale Sharks ran in four second-half tries in a 35-26 win on Sunday in Round 14 of the Gallagher Premiership season.

Tigers had a 13-point lead at half-time following a textbook mauled try from Julian Montoya and a solo score from Guy Porter on the left wing, but Sharks responded after the break to protect a home record showing just one defeat in any competition at the AJ Bell Stadium since last February.

Luke James got Sale’s only points of the opening period but three tries in a 15-minute spell after the break took them in front around the hour and they sealed the points with another in the closing stages.

Both teams are without England players, with Burns and Richard Wigglesworth coming into the Tigers tem at half-backs, while Hanro Liebenberg returned to the squad after injury and on-loan Olly Robinson joined him among the replacements.

In the club’s change kit of white, black and orange, Burns got the game started on a dry but cold afternoon and just moments later he kicked the opening points with a kick from just short of halfway.

When Sharks built some dangerous territory, Tigers got out of the line quickly, with Jasper Wiese and then Montoya, who won a penalty on the floor, from which referee Craig Maxwell-Keys marched Sharks back an extra 10 metres.

An 80-metre clearance kick from Porter after Sale spilled possession in attack had the hosts turning on their heels, but play returned to halfway when Burns over-hit his kick into space and the ball ran dead behind the posts.

The fly-half judged his next kick perfectly, though, pushing Sharks back and, when a penalty award followed, Tigers claimed the opening try as Montoya finished from a lineout drive featuring the eight forwards and a couple of backs for good measure.

Burns added the conversion for a 10-point lead but it lasted only a couple of minutes as dropped ball from the restart gave Sharks a scrum and they moved play to the right where full-back Luke James found a way through to the tryline.

Fly-half AJ MacGinty was just wide with the kick though and Porter soon added his sixth try of the season as the match passed the 20-minute mark.

With the Sharks defence facing him on the left wing, Porter showed great strength and pace after taking ball near halfway and blasted through one tackle before fending-off a second to dive in and re-instate that 10-point lead.

Burns saw his conversion attempt come back off the near post but he was back in the action with a chip-kick which almost brought another score, as the referee had to check the replays before denying the Tigers fly-half.

Tigers, though, had a penalty just short of the line, quickly followed by another before Sharks met the next lineout and were able to clear to halfway.

Dan Kelly showed his pace in defence when Jono Ross kicked loose ball upfield, but after recyling cleanly when the centre won the race, Tigers knocked-on inside their own 22. Sharks tried to attack off the base but a counter-ruck at the breakdown, led by Wiese, shut them out and earned a penalty.

Richard Wigglesworth’s chargedown on opposite number Will Cliff had Sharks in trouble, but Kelly’s kick through to Scott was closed out by the defence just 10 metres from the tryline.

Burns added his second 50-metres penalty to push Tigers 18-5 in front five minutes from half-time and, although Sharks closed the half with two attacking opportunities, they were kept out as the defence preserved that 13-point lead.

The second period started with both teams looking for territory, and when Matt Scott ran ball back strongly in midfield, Sharks were whistled again and Burns made no mistake with the kick, making it 21-5.

Sale came back to attack wide on the left but Wigglesworth read it to take Byron McGuigan into touch.

The referee had been playing advantage, though, and MacGinty kicked into the corner, setting up the position for Ben Curry to break off the edge of their maul to score. The conversion made it 21-12 to Tigers.

Steve Borthwick sent on Liebenberg at the restart, then Jack van Poortvliet ran on in place of Burns, going to full-back as Hegarty moved to fly-half.

After being penalised in attack, though, Tigers were back under the posts as Sharks broke from halfway and gave Arron Reed a chance to race into the left corner for their third score. MacGinty’s kick hit the post with just four points separating the teams at 17-21.

And they went in front when No8 Dan du Preez blocked a kick from Hegarty 40 metres out and recovered quickly to run in for their bonus-point score. MacGinty’s conversion from in front of the post put the hosts 24-21 ahead.

A scrum penalty brought respite for Tigers as they set up a maul again on the right and they were playing with another advantage when van Poortvliet raced on to Kelly’s ball out wide.

Sharks recovered in defence but play came back for the penalty and this time ball stayed with the forwards who patiently worked their way to the tryline for Montoya to score again and make it 26-24 to the visitors.

But the home crowd were back on their feet when MacGinty broke through in attack and, although Tigers got back to prevent the try, referee Maxwell-Keys awarded a penalty and the USA international fly-half kicked the points for a 27-26 lead.

A moment later, he added another to put some daylight between the teams and, direct from the restart, wing Tom Roebuck took possession and ran clear on the right for their fifth try.

This time MacGinty’s conversion hit the post but they were still 35-26 ahead and Tigers were back in their own half again when they gave away a penalty and were unable to take any points from the trip North.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

SAL 5-18 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

SAL 35-26 LEI




Craig Maxwell-Keys

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
101/115 88%
101/125 81%
Scrums Won
6/8 75%
6/6 100%
Lineouts Won
6/8 75%
14/16 88%

Player Stats

Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
15Bryce Hegarty
14Harry Potter
13Matt Scott
12Dan Kelly
11Guy Porter1T
10Freddie Burns1C3P
9Richard Wigglesworth
1James Whitcombe
2Julian Montoya2T
3Dan Cole
4Harry Wells
5Calum Green
6George Martin
7Tommy Reffell
8Jasper Wiese
16Nic Dolly
17Francois van Wyk
18Nephi Leatigaga
19Hanro Liebenberg
20Olly Robinson
21Jack van Poortvliet
22Juan Pablo Socino
23Hosea Saumaki



Sale Sharks beat Tigers 35-26 after 4 tries in the second half overturn their early deficit.   


MacGinty's conversion hits the post but there is a 9-point gap with 2 min to go.

Tom Roebuck races away from the restart to score for Sale and stretch the lead to 35-26.

MacGinty kicks another penalty, Sale lead 30-26 with 4min left on clock.


Olly Robinson is on for his debut. Welcome to the #TigersFamily.

MacGinty penalty for Sale gives them a 27-26 lead with 6min to go.


Hegarty off target with the conversion, Tigers 26-24 ahead.

Montoya again, showing patience and composure at a maul to finally push over for the try on 70mins. Makes it 26-24 to Tigers.

MacGinty converts the try for Sale, they lead 24-21.

Dan Du Preez charges down a Tigers chip and runs in for Sale's bonus-point score. They have the lead for the first time.


Welcome back Hanro Liebenberg, who joins the forward pack. The other change sees Jack van Poortvliet on for Burns, with Hegarty moving to 10.

Sharks break clear from halfway and provide ball for Arron Reed to race in on the left. MacGinty conversion is out off the post with the score at 17-21 on 60min.

MacGinty adds the extras after the Curry try for Sale. Makes it 12-21 on 52min.

Ben Curry breaks off the side of a lineout drive on the right to score for Sharks. 10-21

49min | Penalty from Burns, Tigers go 21-5 in front.


Wee are back under way at the AJ Bell, Tigers 18-5 in front.


Tries from Montoya and Porter give Tigers the lead at 18-5 at the break here at the AJ Bell.

Kick from Burns from just short of halfway again, and he makes it 18-5 to Tigers with 5min to go to half-time.


Massive counter-ruck in the Tigers defence, led by Wiese, brings a penalty and snuffs out the Sharks attack.


Two more penalties in the corner but Sharks then force ball loose and clear.


No try this time as Burns tries the chip in-goal, Sale just getting there first. Still, it's a penalty advantage and Tigers have the ball in the corner... 


Burns sees his conversion kick from wide on the left come out off the near post. Tigers 15-5 in front.


22min | Guy Porter scores in the corner, forcing his way past two defenders close to the touchline after taking play near halfway. Tigers lead 15-5.


MacGinty is just wide with the conversion kick, Tigers' lead trimmed to 5 points at 5-10 on 18min.

Instant reply for Sharks as Luke James finds a gap and makes it through to the line on the right. 5-10. 

Burns adds the conversion from the right. It's not the most attractive kick but it's straight and through the posts. 0-10. 


14min | Lineout drive ends with score for Julian Montoya, his 5th of the season in the Gallagher Premiership. 0-8 


Tigers win scrum ball against the head. Burns then chips almost to the tryline in the corner to pin Sharks back.

3min | Freddie Burns kicks the first points from a penalty just short of halfway. Tigers lead 3-0.

KICK-OFF | Sharks v Tigers

We are all set, Tigers in white, Sharks in blue. Freddie Burns to kick off.



It’s been dry and sunny in the North-West, but temperature has dropped as we count down to kick-off. All calm so far too.




Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Robert du Preez, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 A J Macginty, 9 Will Cliff; 1 Ross Harrison, 2 Ewan Ashman, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 5 Lood de Jager, 6 Jono Ross (c), 7 Ben Curry, 8 Daniel du Preez

Replacements:  16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Joe Jones, 19 J P du Preez, 20 Sam Dugdale, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Sam James, 23 Arron Reed



Tigers line up as follows:

STARTING XV [with Tigers appearances]

15 Bryce Hegarty [6], 14 Harry Potter [26], 13 Matt Scott [36], 12 Dan Kelly [33], 11 Guy Porter [30], 10 Freddie Burns [86], 9 Richard Wigglesworth (c) [24]; 1 James Whitcombe [11], 2 Julián Montoya [15], 3 Dan Cole [278], 4 Harry Wells [140], 5 Calum Green [75], 6 George Martin [28], 7 Tommy Reffell [62], 8 Jasper Wiese [28]


16 Nic Dolly [15], 17 Francois van Wyk [7], 18 Nephi Leatigaga [55], 19 Hanro Liebenberg [43], 20 Olly Robinson [0], 21 Jack van Poortvliet [34], 22 Juan Pablo Socino [6], 23 Hosea Saumaki [6]


MATCH PREVIEW | Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers

Leicester Tigers face Sale Sharks today for a third time in three months after home wins in league and cup before Christmas.

Sharks have lost just once in any competition at the AJ Bell since last February and Tigers have won here just once in their last six visits, though they travel with six away wins on their record so far in the league season.

Both teams are without England players for the build-up to the Six Nations, and in selection news announced on Friday, Freddie Burns joins Richard Wigglesworth as the Tigers half-backs, while Hanro Liebenberg returns to the squad to join loan signing Olly Robinson among the replacements.

Burns replaces England squad member George Ford at fly-half and said: “It’s exciting to be involved, and I’m happy for Fordy, his form has been outstanding for us, he fully deserves that call-up. From a selfish point of view, it is going to be great to get some gametime and hopefully I can contribute to a good team performance.”

Referee is Craig Maxwell-Keys, in charge for a 106th time in Premiership rugby.

Full preview.



We are LIVE from Sale Sharks versus Leicester Tigers in the Gallagher Premiership this afternoon. Kick-off is at 3.00pm.

If you are unable to join us at the game, you can keep up to date with all of the action right here with Matchday Live on the Tigers App and website at www.leicestertigers.com.

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

Luke James
Tom Roebuck
Robert du Preez
Rohan Janse van Rensburg
Byron McGuigan
AJ MacGinty
Will Cliff
Ross Harrison
Ewan Ashman
Coenie Oosthuizen
Jean-Luc du Preez
Lood de Jager
Jono Ross
Ben Curry
Daniel du Preez


Curtis Langdon
Simon McIntyre
Joe Jones
JP du Preez
Sam Dugdale
Gus Warr
Sam James
Arron Reed

Preview | Tigers and Sharks meet again

Leicester Tigers face Sale Sharks for a third time in three months on Sunday in Round 14 of the Gallagher Premiership season.

The teams met for the first time in late-October, with Tigers recording a 19-11 victory thanks to a try from Hanro Liebenberg and 14 points from fly-half George Ford, then met again in the Premiership Rugby Cup three weeks later, with the hosts winning 32-23 at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

The third meeting is at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday, where Sharks have lost just once in any competition since last February.

Tigers have also lost on five of their last six visits, though they travel with six away wins on their record so far in the league season.

Both teams are without England players for the build-up to the Six Nations next weekend, and in selection news announced on Friday, Freddie Burns joins Richard Wigglesworth as the Tigers half-backs, while Hanro Liebenberg returns to the matchday squad to join loan signing Olly Robinson among the replacements.

Burns, who replaces England squad member George Ford at fly-half, said: “It’s exciting to be involved, and I’m happy for Fordy, his form has been outstanding for us, he fully deserves that call-up.

“From a selfish point of view, it is going to be great to get some gametime and hopefully I can contribute to a good team performance.

“You can never put your feet up and say you know the game inside out, you always keep leaerning as a player.

“Sale are a hugely physical team. They’re a quality team, they all buy in to each other and we’ll need a big performance.”

While Tigers had a declared win in Europe last weekend following the cancellation of the home game against Bordeaux-Bègles, Sharks scored seven tries in a 49-10 win over the Ospreys to guarantee a place in the last 16 of the Champions Cup where they will meet English rivals Bristol Bears in April. 

Sale include Tom Roebuck, scorer of two tries against the Ospreys, in their starting line-up and also welcome back internationals Coenie Oosthuizen and Byron McGuigan.

Referee is Craig Maxwell-Keys, in charge for a 106th time in Premiership rugby.

If you are not attending the game, there is live coverage on BT Sport 1HD and also on ITV/ITV HD at the start of the channel’s new agreement with Premiership Rugby.

Or follow the club’s Matchday Live service on the website and app from 2.30pm and see full reaction afterwards on the Tigers website and social media pages.

posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI242004726452274885211394
Sale Sharks
Sale SharksSAL24123955949564756411370
Form Guide
Last Match
Lost to Saracens 25-35
Past Meeting
Won 21-13
Last Match
Past Meeting
Last Match
Lost to Sale Sharks 13-21
Past Meeting
Lost 13-21

Matchday Live

Sale Sharks35
Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers26
Leicester Tigers
Full Time