Last Saturday, BT Sports commentator Nick Mullins said on social media that he was still waiting for “a good old-fashioned 6-3” after 253 points and 32 tries in the first five games of the weekend’s Gallagher Premiership programme. He added, somewhat prophetically, “Leicester v Sale still to come tomorrow”.
It didn’t end 6-3, but it was tight and did not fit the try-fest profile of most other fixtures in the opening weeks of the season.
Pretty it certainly was not, but as Geordan said afterwards, both teams looked nervous and both were equally desperate for a win.
Those conditions do not often lead to a glut of Hollywood passes and scintillating scores. But, to use another expression given an outing after the final whistle, “a win is a win”. And Tigers are four points better off than they were on Sunday morning
Tigers triumphed 19-15 despite being outscored 3-1 on the try count. You could counter by noting that the Sharks scored their final try with time almost up, with Tigers nine points in front entering the final two minutes of the game as George Ford’s place-kicking kept Sale just about at arm’s length.
After losing at home to then-bottom-of-the-table Worcester a week earlier, Tigers were understandably nervous in hosting the now-bottom-of-the-table Sharks. A win would not make everything right again, but it would certainly be easier to plot a way forward with four more points in the locker. The win duly came, even if we did have to “win ugly”.
After the drama of a Round 1 change in head coach, a 10-try meeting with Newcastle, the 14-man effort at Wasps and then a worst-of-11-tries encounter with Worcester, there was little spectacle to the win over the Sharks. But the value of the points, the win back on home ground and the focus it sharpens ahead of the a run of games against Saints, Ulster and Scarlets should not be under-estimated.