by Ben Coles
SALE’S winless run in the new Aviva Premiership season stretched to six matches after defeat on Friday night to Leicester Tigers at the Salford City Stadium.
The Sharks are yet to win at their new ground after the move from Edgeley Park over the summer, although they showed promise during the first half, with full-back Rob Miller grabbing his first try of the season to leave the home crowd hoping for a win against the odds.
Crucial knock-ons from Richie Vernon and by Dave Seymour denied Sale two key scoring opportunities and their slender lead of 8-6 at half-time ultimately wasn’t enough.
Leicester snatched the lead in the opening seven minutes of the second half thanks to a try from the returning Ben Youngs, with George Ford ticking the scoreboard over with the boot in a rare start as Toby Flood was rested. An outstanding defensive performance from the visitors left the Sharks scoreless in the second half as Leicester moved up to third in the table with a 20-8 win.
The loss leaves Sale rooted to the bottom of the table with just a single point to their name ahead of the European break, as the search for a new forwards coach continues. With a squad filled with outstanding talent such as Richie Gray, Vernon, Andy Powell and Mark Cueto, the start to the season has been baffling as Bryan Redpath searches for a first win with his new club.
Last night’s loss condemned Redpath to 10 defeats in a row in the Aviva Premiership, four coming in his final matches as Director of Rugby at Gloucester, and the sacking of forwards coach Steve Scott after Round Four will not have helped with the club’s continuity in the early stages of the season. Redpath however will take positives from the Sharks first-half against Leicester, when the home side controlled the breakdown and executed well on restarts and at the set-piece.
Sale now though will be desperate to get their season up and running when they open their Heineken Cup campaign against a tricky Cardiff Blues side next weekend, before a difficult away fixture against Montpellier.
Despite being only six matches into the new Aviva Premiership season, crucial games away to Worcester and at home to London Irish when the league returns could go a long way to dictating the future of their season.