Sharks reach first Premiership final in 17 years.
Sale Sharks defeated Leicester Tigers in a tight semi-final to reach their first Premiership final in 17 years.
After Jimmy Gopperth scored two penalties for Leicester, Tom Roebuck’s try put Sale up 7-6 at the half.
Harry Potter put the Tigers ahead, only for two George Ford goals and an Arron Reed score to put Sale ahead.
Ben Curry and Dan du Preez are both doubts for the final against Saracens at Twickenham due to injury.
With victory, the Greater Manchester team advances to the Twickenham clash for the first time since beating Tigers to win their only Premiership title in 2006.
The Tigers’ championship reign came to an end at the AJ Bell Stadium after a turbulent season that saw title-winning head coach Steve Borthwick leave for the England post in December.
Despite this, Leicester finished third in the table under interim manager Richard Wigglesworth, who will leave for a post with the national team this summer and be replaced by Australian Dan McKellar at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
Relive the Premier League semi-finals as they happened.
Tigers were dealt a late injury setback when World Cup-winning South African fly-half Handre Pollard was ruled out, with veteran fly-half Gopperth filling in.
Despite missing his first penalty try after only six minutes, the 39-year-old landed two early penalties to put the visitors ahead.
Before Roebuck scored for the hosts in the 20th minute, Sale missed two chances to cross for the game’s opening try, with Akker van der Merwe dropping the ball with the line looming.
After that, George Ford’s conversion against his former team put the Sharks ahead for the first time.
Curry’s hamstring injury in the 29th minute, which forced him to use crutches, will be a huge concern for Sale and maybe England manager Borthwick, who was in attendance as he prepares for the World Cup in September.
Sharks coach Alex Sanderson stated after the game that he doubts the flanker will be available to play against Sarries.
Tigers concluded the first half and began the second down a man when Dan Cole was issued a yellow card for a hard hit on Van der Merwe.
The violent first 40 minutes also saw Tigers scrum-half Youngs pulled off the field for a head injury evaluation, which he later failed.
Jasper Wiese was brought down while attempting to dive over for Leicester’s first try after the interval.
Tigers were back to full strength when Cole was released from the sin bin, and Ford added to Sale’s lead with his first penalty.
Tigers recovered the lead when Potter scored, and after Gopperth added the extras to make it a three-point game, Ford netted his second penalty to tie the game in the 56th minute.
Reed’s score restored a five-point lead, but a forward ball intercepted by the television match official cost Raffi Quirke another try for Sale a minute later.
A Ford penalty with 12 minutes remaining put the game out of reach, but the hosts were dealt another potentially devastating injury blow when Dan du Preez suffered a suspected arm injury.
Alex Sanderson, the manager of the Sale Sharks, told BBC Radio Manchester:
“I’m proud of them because they ran their blood to water today.” Because what more could you want? They said, “Give us what you’ve got.” We now have to do it all over again [in the final].
“It’s tough to tell [the extent of the injury], the first 24 hours are always very difficult,” Curry said of his injury.
“We’ll get a scan tomorrow, but he’s on crutches right now.” This individual would not be stretchered off the field unless something very serious had gone wrong.
“I doubt he will make it to the final.”
Interim Leicester Tigers manager Richard Wigglesworth told BBC Radio Leicester:
“We were right in the race, but it came down to razor-thin margins, and we couldn’t quite get the advantage we needed.”
“There were a lot of little moments in that game where we didn’t quite force our hand and take advantage of opportunities.”
“I’m incredibly proud of the group and their fight, how they stayed in the competition and gave themselves the best chance.” We weren’t quite good enough, whereas Sale was.”
Carpenter, Roebuck, Rob Du Preez, Tuilagi, Reed, Ford, Warr; McIntyre, Van der Merwe, Schonert, Jean-Luc du Preez, Hill, Tom Curry, Ben Curry (captain), Ross.
Ashman, Rodd, Oosthuizen, Beaumont, Dan du Preez, Quirke, James, and O’Flaherty are the replacements.
Steward, Watson, Scott, Kelly, Potter, Gopperth, Youngs; Wiese, Reffell, Liebenberg, Henderson, Martin, Cole, Montoya (captain), West.
Clare, Cronin, Heyes, Wells, Cracknell, Van Poortvliet, Atkinson, and Porter are the replacements.