Tigers’ development squad took the honours over Sale Jets for the second time in three weeks with a 38-24 Premiership Rugby Shield victory on Monday night.
A frantic first 40 minutes at Loughborough University saw a penalty try for both teams and a total of three yellow cards, but Will Findlay’s brace put Tigers 21-17 up at the break.
The bonus point was sewn up within the first ten minutes of the second half, and scores for Kwaku Asiedu and Will Lane took Tigers’ tally to 38 points before a late consolation for the Jets.
Tommy Reffell made his first start in the Tigers back row since returning from an injury picked up on Wales U20s duty in February, and captained a young Development XV that featured seven guest players including former South Africa Sevens speedster Clayton Blommetjies at full-back.
Tigers started with real intensity in the first half, and were unlucky not to score in the opening two minutes after two strong lineout drives were both stopped short of the Sale line.
But Sale were first on the scoreboard with a strong push of their own on 12 minutes, which scrum-half Gus Warr duly converted to pin the score at 7-0.
Neither side’s backs were to see the ball for another 10 minutes or so, as the Leicester forwards smelled a pushover try of their own. Several lineouts and numerous scrums later – plus a yellow card for Sale’s Nick Ashcroft – a darting run from scrum-half Will Findlay eventually got the job done, and Tom Hardwick’s kick levelled the scores with just over a quarter of the game gone.
The visitors were having none of it, though, and were soon back into the Tigers half. Warr made the most of a scrum penalty with a three-pointer from the tee to edge the Jets ahead on the half-hour mark.
Tigers were soon back into their favourite corner, but referee Matt Turvey was less patient with the Sale team this time – sending No8 Sam Dugdale to the bin moments before awarding a penalty try to the home side that made it 14-10.
The yellow card was soon back out after the restart, this time penalising Campese Ma’afu at the breakdown. And Turvey was quickly back under the posts to award a penalty try, this time for the Jets after Leicester were adjudged to have brought down a scrum on their five-metre line.
Tigers opened play up with the next move, with a brilliant offload off the floor from Academy wing Luke Phoenix to Fred Tuilagi, who fed Findlay to score his second in the corner. Hardwick converted from the touchline, to make it 21-17 at the break.
Leicester came out the blocks quickest in the second half, with replacement hooker Will Holling peeling off the back of a powerful maul to score his side’s bonus-point try for 26-17.
And the fifth wasn’t far behind, with guest full-back Clayton Blommetjies bossing his backfield to great effect. Inside centre Tim Bitirim claimed a Sale high ball inside his own half and broke the defensive line beyond the visitors’ 22 before feeding Kwaku Asiedu to score in the right-hand corner. Hardwick made no mistake with his attempt at the sticks.
Tigers stepped up the pace of the game even further on the hour mark, with Bitirim, Blommetjies, and even replacement loosehead Owen Hills seemingly making metres at will, though Findlay was unlucky not to score his hat-trick try after accidental obstruction with one of his own men.
England Under-18 man Joe Browning would make amends, though, when Tigers turned over Sale ball inside their own 22. Browning made a sensational run through midfield, skipping through tackle after tackle before being brought down a couple of metres short of the line. Leicester recycled well, and Will Lane got over the whitewash for his side’s sixth try of the evening.
Leicester finished the game with 14 men after Fred Tuilagi was shown the fourth yellow card of the game for cynically slowing down the ball at a breakdown.
And Sale would have the final say, with a brilliant piece of skill from Tom Bullough to chip ahead down the left wing before feeding full-back Nathan Pope to score. Warr added the conversion with the final kick of the game to leave a final score of 38-24.
Tigers 38 Sale 24
Final points of the game
Sale add the conversion and the referee blows the whistle to end the game and make it 38-24.
It's all Sale from the lineout, they win a penalty and go quickly, working the ball out wide and a chip ahead gets Tigers on the backfoot and some quick ball goes to Sale's Nathan Pope who runs in to score.
Sale on the attack but they chip ahead into Tigers 22, it's Tigers who react quickest though and recover the ball.
Tigers kick clear and its a Sale lineout back on Sale's 10 metre line.
Sale on the attack
Sale look to use the extra man and run the ball from the lineout, building phases as they work up tow the Tigers 22.
Yellow card for Tigers
The play is end-to-end from the restart but as the play heads back to halfway Tigers are penalised and Fred Tuilagi is shown a yellow card.
Sale kick to touch for a lineout inside Tigers half.
Hardwick is unsuccesful with the touchline conversion to the score remains 38-17.
Try for Tigers
Sale make a handling error after the scrum and Tigers go quickly, collecting the ball and running it out wide before Joe Browning runs it back across field showing his pace as he makes it up into the Sale 22 before being tackle.
The ball is recycled quickly and is out wide to Will Lane who crosses in the corner for Tigers.
Ball held up
Tigers run the ball from the lineout but Fred Tuilagi is held up and the referee calls maul, giving Sale the scrum in Tigers half.
Sale on the attack
Tigers manage to push Sale into touch for a Tigers lineout but Sale manage to steal the ball and are on the attack.
The ball is run out wide from Sale but Tigers hold strong and Sale are pushed into touch for another Tigers lineout.
Tigers Ball, Sale Ball
Tigers look to disrupt the Sale scrum and tackle the ball carrier but Sale recover enough to kick clear for a Tigers lineout outside the Sale 22.
Tigers run the ball out wide from the lineout but are penalised on at the breakdown, Sale kick for a lineout outside the Tigers 22.
Tigers show some good handling and footwork to make yards and some breaks into the Sale 22 but there's an accidental obstruction and Sale have the scrum.
Tigers win a penalty at the lineout and kick for another lineout in the Sale half.
The ball is run out wide from the lineout as Tigers look to attack with a nice break and offload from Tommy Reffell to Owen Hills who knocks back two tackles before being tackle at the Sale 22.
Tigers with the ball
Tigers run the ball from the scrum and build phases in our 22 before we chip ahead and as Sale collect the ball is pushed into touch for a Tigers lineout on the 22.
Restart and Turnover
Sale win a penalty at the restart and kick to touch for a lineout inside Tigers 22.
Tigers are able to hold up the driving maul to win the ball and a scrum.
Hardwick adds the covnersion from out on the touchline to extend Tigers lead to 33-17.
Try for Tigers
Tigers collect the ball at the lineout and pass the ball out wide, some great hands from Tim Bitirim before the ball is out to Kwaku Asiedu who shows his pace to run it in the corner.
The play is fast and end-to-end as there is some loose ball but the play continues.
A kick ahead from Sale is collected by Tigers and run back in field but Sale are penalised for a delieberate knock-on and Tigers kick for another lineout.
Tigers hold in defence
Tigers collect the restart and kick clear to touch for a Sale lineout on halfway.
Sale are quick to get the ball out wide but Tigers are quick to the breakdown and win a penalty, kicking for the lineout just outside the Sale 22.
Tom Hardwick missed the conversion so the score remains Tigers 26 Sale 17.
Try for Tigers
Tigers collect the lineout and create the driving maul, pushing it straight over the tryline.
Tigers win a free kick at the lineout and go quickly, there's some good handling and Tigers work up into the Sale 22 before winning a penalty as Sale are offside and Tigers kick for the lineout.
Strong Tigers Defence
Tigers look strong in defence as Sale collect the ball at the lineout and build phases, working across the pitch.
Tigers are patient and win a penalty at the breakdown, kicking for a lineout on halfway.
Tigers go wide
Tigers go wide as they look to run the ball from the scrum but there's a penalty on the far side for Sale and they kick for the lineout.
Tigers recover the ball
Sale take the lineout ball but it's messy as they pass it out and look to run the ball.
Tigers are quick at the breakdown and win a scrum.
Tigers have the scrum to restart the game and we are on the attack in our 22 but the ball goes wide and we are pushed into touch for a Sale lineout.
Injury stops play
There's a player down from the restart and play has stopped as they receive treatment.
Sale gets us underway for the second-half here at Loughborough University.
Tigers 21 Sale 17
Tigers hold strong
Sale take the lineout ball and look to create phases but the ball goes loose and the referee calls a knock-on before blowing the whistle for half-time.
Sale on the attack again
Sale win a penalty at the restart and kick to the corner for the lineout.
Tigers with the extras
Hardwick lands the conversion to make it 21-17.
Try for Tigers
Tigers run the ball from the lineout and after a break and offload from Luke Phoenix the ball is passed out wide to Will Findlay who runs out to the corner to score his second.
Manic from the restart
The play following the restart have been end-to-end with another Tigers charge down before Tigers win a penalty at the breakdown and kick to the corner.
Sale Penalty Try
Sale go for another scrum and look the dominant side and it results in the referee running under the posts for a penalty try for Sale.
Yellow card for Tigers
Tigers are penalised at the scrum and Tigers prop Campese Ma'afu is shown a yellow card.
Sale Pressure at the restart
Tigers make a knock-on at the restart and get the scrum.
Penalty Try for Tigers
Tigers with another driving maul, this time we push back in field and over the tryline but Sale pull it down illegally and the referee runs under the posts for a penalty try.
Another yellow for Sale
Tigers create the driving maul but it pulled down and it's another yellow card for Sale, this time to the number eight, Sam Dugdale.
Good reaction from Tigers
Tigers look to win the ball at the restart, Sale take the kick but Tigers add pressure in defence and win a penalty at the breakdown.
There's some words from the Sale players and the referee marches them back 10.
Hardwick kicks to touch for a Tigers lineout in the corner.
Sale win a penalty at the scrum and point to the posts, the Gus Warr makes the kick to take the lead for Sale 7-10.
Loose Ball at the restart
Tigers take the restart but there's some loose ball and a knock-on, Sale have the scrum just inside the Tigers 22.
Hardwick with the extras
Tigers add the conversion through Tom Hardwick to make it 7-7.
Try for Tigers
Sale with the intercept ball look to kick clear but there's charge down on the Sale 13 and Tigers react quickest with Will Findlay collecting the ball and running over for the try in the corner.
Tigers with the ball
Tigers win the lineout and look to run the ball with a number of phases, there's a loose pass and Sale intercept.
A number of reset scrums
We have at least three reset scrums before Tigers win a penalty and Tigers opt for the lineout.
Tigers with another driving maul from the lineout and this time we get over the line but the referee calls the ball held up and Tigers will have the scrum 5 metres out.
Yellow Card for Sale
Tigers create another driving maul from the lineout and win a penalty as Sale pull it down, the referee blows his whistle and shows a yellow card to a sale back-rower.
Tigers go for another lineout.
Tigers Lineout Pressure
Tigers win the lineout ball and create the driving maul, the ball is passed out and chipped ahead but Sale recover the ball.
The referee calls us back for penalty advantage and Tigers kick for another lineout 5 metres out.
Tigers look to react to the Sale try and put the pressure on from the kick-off and win a penalty at the breakdown.
Tigers kick to the corner for a lineout inside the Sale 22.
Sale add the extras
Sale add the conversion through their scrum-half Gus Warr to make it 0-7.
Sale create the driving maul and push their way over the tryline for the first points of the match, unfortunately unable to get a number for the try-scorer.
Sale into Tigers corner
Sale win a penalty at the scrum and kick to touch, with the lineout inside Tigers 22.
Sale with another attack from the lineout but the ball goes loose with a knock-on. Tigers look to react quickest but there is a forward pass and Sale have the scrum outside our 22.
Sale with back-to-back penalties
Sale win a penalty at the scrum and kick to touch to get a lineout on half-way.
Sale take the ball from the lineout and test Tigers defence as they work the ball from one side of the pitch to the other but Tigers push them back.
Sale win a penalty at the breakdown for hands in the ruck and kick for another lineout, this time between the Tigers 10 metre line and the 22.
Tigers go wide
Tigers take the lineout ball and push the ball out wide, there's some quick hands and quick feet but the ball goes loose and the referee calls a knock-on.
Sale have the scrum inside their 22.
Early Tigers Pressure
Tigers win a penalty at the breakdown and Hardwick kicks to the corner for a Tigers lineout in the Sale 22.
Tigers collect the lineout ball but the ball is turned over in the maul and Sale kick clear.
Tigers have the lineout just inside the Sale 22.
Here We Go
The teams are back out on the pitch and it is Tigers and Tom Hardwick to get things underway here.
Here is tonight's Tigers team.
Tonight's Shield Action
Welcome to Loughborough University where we host Sale Jets in the Premiership Shield.
The teams have finished their warm-ups and we are just a few minutes away from kick-off.