|Leicester (6) 19|
|Try: Liebenberg Con: Ford Pens: Ford 4|
|Sale (3) 11|
|Try: Langdon Pens: Wilkinson 2|
Premiership leaders Leicester maintained their flying start to the season as they beat Sale Sharks to make it six wins from six.
Tigers led 6-3 at the break after the first two of four George Ford penalties edged one from Kieran Wilkinson.
Hanro Liebenberg’s converted try and two further Ford penalties, to one by Wilkinson, stretched them clear.
But when Curtis Langdon went over for a late try, Sale blew a losing bonus point from Tom Curtis’ missed kick.
Having also won their final Premiership game last season, Tigers’ run of seven wins is now their best run since 2014.
Although left out of Eddie Jones’ England squad for the Autumn Nations Series, Tigers outside-half Ford was Leicester’s match-winner.
The 77 times-capped international kicked well from hand and the tee to help Leicester into a six-point lead at the top going into next weekend’s meeting with third-placed East Midlands rivals Northampton.
But it was his long-time half-back partner Ben Youngs who set up the Tigers’ only try, brilliantly drawing in the Sale defence before delivering the scoring pass to South African international flanker Liebenberg, who showed pace and power to touch down wide out.
Sale’s late reply, when replacement hooker Langdon got over from a rolling maul, came too late to affect the outcome.
Their next challenge is taking on struggling Worcester, who have lost five games on the spin, next weekend at Sixways.
Leicester Tigers boss Steve Borthwick:
“George Ford did a really good job to get us into a position to win the game. And Ben Youngs was tremendous. When an opportunity presents itself, there are not too many better around than Ben.
“He is getting sharper and sharper. He did some real good things, he managed our way through the first half. He and George were excellent.
“If we had been on the wrong end of the scoreline, I would still have been proud of the players’ efforts. We have got a lot to get better at, but I’ve got a bunch of players who really want to work hard.
“Next week we play a Northampton team packed with pace and athleticism. The way they move the ball, when they choose to play that phase-attack, they look very, very dangerous. Chris Boyd clearly is an outstanding coach with his track record in the southern hemisphere.”
Sale rugby director Alex Sanderson:
“We deserved a point from the effort and intensity we showed, the territory we got and the opportunities that we had. It’s not a fairytale, though, is it, this game?
“We squandered too many opportunities in the first half and couldn’t become dominant in the second half at the set-piece and breakdown.
“Those were the two things that really lost us the game. Two breakdown penalties led to six points for Leicester.
“You’ve got to give credit to Leicester. They squeezed us out at the end, really, but we must also look at ourselves. We can get a better result next time by having better execution.”
Leicester: Steward; Potter, Scott, Kelly, Nadolo; Ford, B Youngs; Genge (capt), Montoya, Cole, Wells, Green, Liebenberg, Van Staden, J Wiese.
Replacements: Dolly, Leatigaga, Heyes, Martin, Reffell, Wigglesworth, Burns, Moroni.
Sale: Hammersley; McGuigan, Tuilagi, Van Rensburg, Yarde; Wilkinson, Warr; Rodd, Taylor, Schonert, C Wiese, De Jager, Ross (capt), T Curry, JL du Preez.
Replacements: Langdon, Harrison, Oosthuizen, JP du Preez, B Curry, Thomas, Curtis, S James.
Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU).