HomeNewsSale Sharks 21-13 Leicester Tigers: Sharks reach first Premiership final in 17...

Sale Sharks 21-13 Leicester Tigers: Sharks reach first Premiership final in 17 years

Tom Roebuck goes over for Sale's try as Ben Youngs tries to keep him out for Leicester
Sale will now play Saracens in the Premiership final on 27 May
Sale Sharks (7) 21
Tries: Roebuck, Reed Con: Ford Pens: Ford 3
Leicester Tigers (6) 13
Try: Potter Con: Gopperth Pens: Gopperth 2

Sale Sharks overcame holders Leicester Tigers in a bruising and tense semi-final to reach their first Premiership final for 17 years.

Tom Roebuck’s try put Sale 7-6 up at the break after Jimmy Gopperth slotted two penalties for Leicester.

Harry Potter edged Tigers ahead, only for two George Ford kicks and an Arron Reed score to win it for Sale.

Ben Curry and Dan du Preez will be doubts for the Twickenham decider with Saracens after suffering injuries.

Victory sees the club from Greater Manchester advance to the Twickenham showdown for the first time since they beat Tigers to win their only Premiership crown in 2006.

Tigers’ reign as champions was ended at the AJ Bell Stadium after a season of upheaval, which saw title-winning head coach Steve Borthwick leaving for the England job in December.

Still, a run of six straight wins late in the season saw Leicester finish third in the table under interim boss Richard Wigglesworth, who will himself leave for a job with the national team this summer and make way for Australian Dan McKellar at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

A late injury blow for Tigers saw World Cup-winning South Africa fly-half Handre Pollard ruled out, with veteran fly-half Gopperth slotting in as his replacement.

The 39-year-old landed two early penalties to edge the visitors ahead despite missing with his first attempt after just six minutes.

Sale twice squandered chances in quick succession to cross for the game’s first try – which included Akker van der Merwe spilling the ball with the line beckoning – before Roebuck finally touched down for the hosts in the 20th minute.

George Ford’s conversion against his former side then edged the Sharks ahead for the first time.

Curry’s hamstring injury in the 29th minute will be a major concern for Sale and possibly England boss Borthwick, who was in the stands as he plans for the World Cup in September.

Tigers finished the half and started the second a man down with Dan Cole shown a yellow card for a high hit on Van der Merwe.

The physical first 40 minutes also ended with Tigers scrum-half Youngs being forced off the field for a head injury assessment, which he subsequently failed.

Jasper Wiese was forced into touch as he attempted to dive over to score Leicester’s first try after the break.

Tigers were back at full strength, with Cole returning from the sin-bin, before Ford added to Sale’s buffer with his first penalty.

Tigers reclaimed the lead with Potter going over and, after Gopperth added the extras to make it a three-point advantage, Ford slotted his second penalty to level the scores in the 56th minute.

Reed’s try restored a five-point advantage, and a forward pass picked up by the television match official cost Raffi Quirke another for Sale a minute later.

A Ford penalty with 12 minutes remaining ultimately put the game beyond reach, but the hosts suffered another potentially big injury blow with Dan du Preez suffering a suspected arm injury.

Sale Sharks: Carpenter, Roebuck, Rob Du Preez, Tuilagi, Reed, Ford, Warr; McIntyre, Van der Merwe, Schonert, Jean-Luc du Preez, Hill, Tom Curry, Ben Curry (capt), Ross.

Replacements: Ashman, Rodd, Oosthuizen, Beaumont, Dan du Preez, Quirke, James, O’Flaherty.

Leicester Tigers: Steward, Watson, Scott, Kelly, Potter, Gopperth, Youngs; Wiese, Reffell, Liebenberg, Henderson, Martin, Cole, Montoya (capt), West.

Replacements: Clare, Cronin, Heyes, Wells, Cracknell, Van Poortvliet, Atkinson, Porter.

Referee: Wayne Barnes.

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