Tigers strolled to an easy win against struggling Sale as they scored 3 tries in each half to record a 48-10 win, the biggest of the Premiership season so far. Tom Croft captained the side on his 100th start for the first team and was like a man possessed.
Ed Slater and Matt Smith both weighed in with braces as Mat Tait and a penalty try rounded out the scorers, George Ford was 8/8 with the boot on a perfect day for the Tigers.
Tigers started the game brightly and should really have crossed the try line before the 25th minute as Thompstone and Waldrom both had tries ruled out by referee Wayne Barnes. Thompstone's was for a forward pass by the effervescent Tom Croft, truly back to his best, as he tried a flair back of the hand off load. Waldrom's was called back for a knock on at the base of a ruck by Mulipola.
Niall Morris butchered a glorious chance when he dithered after bursting onto Dan Bowden's pass. The winger was clear in space and surely would have been better to pin back his ears and go hell for leather for the line. He chose to pass to Thompstone who was held up.
Tigers eventually got their try on 25 minutes as Ed Slater took George Ford's pass from the base of the ruck and squirmed through the Sale defenders to ground the ball. The scores flowed thick and fast after that as Adam Thompstone chased through Dan Bowden's grubber kick but was denied the chance to ground it as Tom Brady (the Mancunian winger rather than the NFL Quarter Back) tackled him without the ball. He had ten minutes to think about what he had done as Wayne Barnes produced the yellow card and went under the posts. Really it would be good to go back to the old days and credit a penalty try to the player who was denied illegally, especially as giving them in open play (as opposed to a scrum for instance) seems to be back in fashion recently with 5 given in the last two weeks alone.
Brady's absence was felt quickly as Ed Slater scored an amazing individual try. He took Mat Tait's pass standing pretty much still inside his own half and just kept on going until he was over the try line. A hint of a dummy to Graham Kitchener saw the Sale defence part like the red sea and Slater showed serious gas as he outpaced Sale winger Mark Jennings, full back Cameron Sheppard and centre Jonny Leota as he stormed over. I love Louis Deacon but I can't imagine him scoring a try like that anymore.
8 minutes into the second half Tigers made sure of the Try Bonus Point as Matt Smith crossed for their 4th 5 pointer. Superb flat fast wide passes from George Ford and Dan Bowden gave Matt Smith the space to score in the corner as he held off Jennings. Bowden's pass a beauty cutting out two men.
Smith scored again 5 minutes later. Crane had set the ruck up 5 meters out and under the posts before George Ford straightened the line to attract the attentions of New Zealander Dan Braid, with his shoulders turned towards the young fly half he was in no position to stop Matt Smith coming like a ton of bricks on his inside. Smith went under the posts unmolested by a Sale hand.
The last try came from full back Mat Tait as he used his pace to blast round the outside of a tiring Sale defence that was disorganised after a poor clearing kick fell in field.
Tigers took their tries very well and will be pleased to have gotten back on the horse and broken the string of losses that were in danger of mounting up. With Saracens and Quins still having to play each other in the next round of fixtures we are at least in a position to take advantage should we be able to win down in Devon in 2 weeks time.
A cloud on Tigers horizon may be the injury to Logovi'i Mulipola who left the field after 25 minutes. Cockerill assures us it is only a dead leg but then he thought Tom Croft wouldn't a miss after he broke his neck, so his injury pronouncements aren't to be entirely trusted. That meant an introduction of Fraser Balmain for the first time since his troubles in Llanelli. The Geordie bulldozer had a fine game to put that nightmare to rest with one bullocking carry standing out in particular.
Sale though were very poor and unless the RFU deals out some rough justice to London Welsh they look set for the Championship next season.