Tigers claw back lost pride

Leicester 35 Sale 23

Corry’s man-of-the-match display highlighted a supreme Leicester effort that saw them outscore their opponents 4-2 on tries as they triumphed by 12 points.

It was Leicester’s first senior competitive game since Sale smashed them 45-20 in last season’s Premiership final at Twickenham, and Corry was thrilled with the way his team turned the tables in securing a bonus point triumph.

“The result last May was hard to take and it made the summer tough,” said England star Corry.

“Something like that hangs over you, especially when it is the last game of the season. But it was a case of drawing a line in the sand and resetting our goals.

“We have laid a few ghosts to rest with this result, but it was only the first game of the season. No trophies are handed out at this stage.”

A rip-roaring contest saw Leicester fight back from 23-19 adrift early in the second half to score 16 unanswered points, culminating with a penalty try when Sale’s front row buckled under relentless pressure.

Ireland’s Geordan Murphy, flanker Louis Deacon and prop Alex Moreno claimed earlier touchdowns, while fly-half Andy Goode kicked 15 points as Leicester stretched their unbeaten home league record to 27 games.

“We had a lot of possession,” added Corry. “But we knew that if we stuck to our game plan, the points would come.

“We went behind in the game, yet we were playing well. It was a case of not panicking and just sticking with what we were doing.”

A bruising game took its toll as Sale lock Ignacio Fernandez-Lobbe (shoulder) and Tigers replacement Tom Croft (ankle) both failed to last the distance, while Sharks were temporarily reduced to 14 men late on when England forward Chris Jones was sin-binned for obstruction.

“What happened last May might have served as a motivation for the first 15 or 20 minutes, but once you have lost a Grand Final, that’s it – it is over,” said Leicester head coach Pat Howard.

“We know we will have an extremely tough game when we go to Sale later this season, and we know Sale are going to be up there come the end of the season.”

England fly-half Charlie Hodgson pulled the strings for Sale, scoring 18 points, but although Sebastien Bruno’s second-half touchdown edged the visitors ahead, they lost their way during a one-sided final quarter when Goode punished their technical indiscipline.

“We had the wind with us in the first half, but we only had a four-point lead at half-time,” said Sharks rugby director Philippe Saint-Andre.

“Leicester played very well in the forwards and they deserved to win. We were under pressure in the line-outs, and the penalty try and yellow card late on made a big difference.”

The one bright spot for Sale was England prop Andrew Sheridan’s return off the bench after 53 minutes. It was his first appearance since suffering a neck injury last term.

Leicester: Tries: G. Murphy, L. Deacon, Moreno, Penalty. Cons: Goode 3. Pens: Goode 3.

LEICESTER: Vesty, G. Murphy, Cornwell, Gibson, Varndell, Goode, Bemand, Moreno, Chuter, Castrogiovanni, Kay, Hamilton, L. Deacon, Jennings, Corry, Croft.

Replacements: Hipkiss for Cornwell (54), Rabeni for Varndell (50), White for Moreno (42), H. Tuilagi for Hamilton (49), Croft for Jennings (40), Buckland for Croft (59).

Sale: Tries: Hodgson, Bruno. Cons: Hodgson 2. Pens: Hodgson 3.

SALE: Robinson, Cueto, Mayor, Bell, Ripol, Hodgson, Wigglesworth, Faure, Bruno, Turner, Jones, I. Fernandez Lobbe, White, Lund, Chabal.

Replacements: Thomas for Ripol (79), Foden for Wigglesworth (67), Sheridan for Faure (50), Evans for Turner (50), J. Fernandez Lobbe for I. Fernandez Lobbe (39), Day for Chabal (40). Not Used: Goana. Sin Bin: Jones (67).

Referee: Tony Spreadbury (Bristol).

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