Leicester Tigers were beaten 43-8 by Sale Jets in the Premiership ‘A’ League at Heywood Road on Monday evening.
After a defeat last week, Tigers started Monday’s game seven points behind second-placed Wasps in the northern conference with places for only the top two waiting in the semi-finals.
A young Tigers side included five members of the Under-18 Academy League-winning squad, with two more among the replacements. Joe Ford, Charlie Thacker and Chris Baumann were the more senior members, while Sale featured the experience of forwards TJ Ioane and Cameron Neild, and included former Leicester wing Paolo Odogwu in a team named by coach Neil Briggs, another to play for both clubs.
After kick-off had been delayed for nearly an hour, while officials waited for the ambulance required by league regulations, play eventually got under way just before 8.30pm.
It was skipper Ford who gave Tigers an early lead, landing an opportunist drop goal from wide on the left after just three minutes.
The fly-half’s boot was also put to use in defence, his big kicks clearing the lines on a number of occasions before Sale grabbed two tries in a five-minute spell approaching the midway mark in the half.
The first came from loosehead James Flynn after some close-range phases and then Odogwu added a fine individual score to stretch the lead.
Picking up possession from a clearing kick on the left touchline near halfway, Odogwu broke the defence and then used his pace on the outside to eventually score in the right-hand corner to make it 12-3 after 18 minutes.
A third score came after 33 minutes with back-rower Sam Moore credited with the final touch in the right-hand corner. Redman added the kick to stretch the lead to 19-3.
The physical strength of the Jets forwards, led by Ioane, continued to ask questions of the Tigers defence, but there was no further score before the break.
The teams had a quick turnaround at half-time, staying on the pitch and resuming with Tigers kicking off.
But they were quickly pinned back after conceding a penalty near halfway. And Tigers were soon down to 14 men after a yellow card for Charlie Thacker in defence.
From the resulting penalty, though, the visiting forwards managed to disrupt the Sale drive and had put-in at a scrum, allowing Will Yarnell to kick clear.
But Sale did not have to wait too long for their bonus-point scorer, with second-rower Charlie Pozniak timing his run into the backline and charging over f10 metres out. Redman’s conversion made it 26-3 with 50 minutes played.
Replacement hooker Curtis Langdon then finished an eye-catching attack from the Jets, diving over in the right-hand corner after a break through the centre of the Tigers defence.
With both sides making changes from the bench, Jets added a sixth try just after the hour mark, with Tom Burns going over to the right of the posts. Luke James kicked the extras as the lead reached 38-3.
From the restart, teenage scrum-half Will Finlay looked like he’d found a gap in the Jets defence 20 metres out, only for ball to fall loose, but then Tigers recovered and scored from a lineout drive in the right-hand corner, the forwards combining impressively to put Henri Lavin over in the corner.
A 40-metre break by flanker Taylor Gough provided the impetus for another Tigers attack, but hooker Adam Johnson was denied a score when the referee judged a pass from Myles Bean had travelled forward just short of the line.
Tigers enjoyed their best period of pressure in the match in the final quarter, retaining possession in the Jets 22 before being penalised in possession, allowing Sale to clear the danger.
After the referee blew again near halfway, Sale broke clear for another score, replacement wing Billy Wara using his power and pace to finish on the right in the final opportunity of the evening.