Aviva Premiership: Leicester withstand Sale fightback to record 30-23 win
Last Updated: 28/12/13 6:03pm
Leicester withstood a fierce second-half fightback from Sale to secure a hard-fought 30-23 Aviva Premiership victory over the Sharks at Welford Road.
The Tigers looked on course for a resounding home win as they went in 20-6 to the good at the interval after two early tries, while young Welsh fly-half Owen Williams - who eventually finished with 15 points - produced a faultless kicking display.
However, Sale hit back after the break with two tries of their own and a late penalty by replacement Joe Ford earned them a losing bonus-point.
Williams, who signed from the Scarlets last summer, started in place of the injured Toby Flood and demonstrated he could be the one to replace the France-bound fly-half long-term by making a sparkling start to his ninth appearance for the Tigers.
The 21-year-old was at the heart of all the good work that earned them a 10-0 lead after 12 minutes, and was heavily involved in a brilliant fourth minute try.
His chip over halfway was caught by Dan Bowden and, after Thomas Waldrom had bulldozed his way into the 22, Williams popped up to provide the scoring pass for lock Ed Slater.
Williams converted and then kicked a penalty before being on the receiving end of a scuffle with Sale centre Sammy Tuitupou, who was sin-binned by referee Ashley Rowden after he had consulted the TMO.
The TMO was involved again two minutes later, this time awarding a try to Leicester winger Adam Thompstone who scored from a long miss-pass by Bowden.
Williams had the crowd roaring after a superb conversion from the left touchline made it 17-0, which became 17-3 when Sale fly-half Nick Macleod slotted an easy penalty.
Thompstone should have had a second after being put away by Williams but spilled the ball in the tackle near the line before Williams made it 20-3 in the 35th minute with an easy penalty.
Sale finally managed to exert some pressure with a few minutes of the half left. They refused three kickable penalties in favour of going for a try but failed to dent the Tigers defence and had to settle for a penalty by Macleod from the left touchline deep into overtime.
Williams stretched Leicester's lead four minutes after the interval with a penalty from in front of the posts and, after full-back Rob Miller had missed a long-range penalty for Sale, Cueto scored an impressive try after scrum-half Dwayne Peel had sparked the attack with a clever switch of direction.
Macleod kicked the conversion from the right touchline to give hope to Sale, who withstood some fierce pressure from the Tigers just before the hour mark.
And they got their reward for that stout defence when winger Charlie Ingall finished off a great move started by flanker James Gaskell, who split the Tigers defence wide open with a blistering break.
Macleod again kicked the conversion from the right touchline to put Sale within three points of their hosts.
But the forwards put the Tigers back in control when they earned a penalty try from a sixth successive scrum on the Sale line. Williams converted but Ford kicked a long-range penalty for Sale three minutes later to earn some reward for their efforts.
Sat 16th May
Bath50 - 30Gloucester
Exeter44 - 16Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers22 - 14Northampton
London Irish40 - 40Wasps
London Welsh17 - 68Saracens
Newcastle Falcons37 - 21Harlequins
Sat 23rd May - Semi Final
Northampton0 - 0Saracens
Bath0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round 11
Gloucester boss Nigel Davies admitted life with his team is "pretty stressful with this lot at present."
Gloucester secured their fourth win of the Premiership season after holding off a late fightback from London Irish.
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea welcomed a "very, very big win" over Exeter at Twickenham.