Faf de Klerk and captain Jono Ross starred in the Sale Sharks’ 40-31 win over the Leicester Tigers, while there were also wins for Wasps, Bath and Gloucester in the English Premiership on Saturday.
Sale and Leicester played out an enthralling contest, but the visitors’ Test-laden match-day squad ultimately outlasted the hosts at Welford Road.
While all eyes were on Sale’s new acquisition Manu Tuilagi for his return to Welford Road to front his old team, it was foreign imports De Klerk, Ross and USA flyhalf AJ MacGinty who stole the show with superb individual peformances.
After an even start, Sale pushed their lead out 39-19, with Tuilagi and Ross getting their names on the scoreboard, while De Klerk successfully lined up a penalty and a drop goal and MacGinty slotted four conversions and a penalty kick.
Leicester launched a comeback, led by Hanro Liebenberg who scored a try. The hosts came within six points of Sale’s tally to set up a grandstand finish. But MacGinty stepped up to nail a crucial penalty late in the game to secure the win for Sale.
Elsewhere, the already relegated Saracens slumped to a 28-18 defeat against Wasps. Saracens had to complete the game with 14 men after Owen Farrell was red carded for a reckless and dangerous high tackle. Wasps remain in fourth position after their victory.
In London, Bath registered a stunning 41-27 win over Harlequins despite conceding two yellow cards. Bath’s Welshman Rhys Priestland was the best performer on the day, scoring 21 individual points via five penalties and three conversions.
In the final match of the round, Gloucester claimed a 36-23 win over London Irish. They scored five tries, including one from exciting Welsh teenager Louis Rees-Zammit.
Saturday Premiership results (Round 18):
Leicester Tigers 31 Sale Sharks 40
Saracens 18 Wasps 28
Harlequins 27 Bath 41
Gloucester 36 London Irish 23
Photo: Exeter Chiefs