Danny Cipriani late try decisive as Sale topple Leicester
Danny Cipriani scored a match-winning try against Leicester as Sale maintained their unbeaten home record in the Aviva Premiership in a game that was suspended during the second half due to thunder and lightning.
Referee Thomas Foley called the players off with 26 minutes remaining due to the looming storm above the AJ Bell Stadium but it soon subsided and, after a 10-minute break, the match restarted with the Sharks leading 20-13.
Although the visitors hit back with a converted try from Vereniki Goneva to level the scores in the 61st minute, Sale won it when Cipriani weaved his way through in the 69th minute and then converted to make it 27-20.
The result saw Sale complete the double over the Tigers and served as a huge boost to their hopes of European qualification.
England trio Dan Cole, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi all returned after RBS 6 Nations duty for a Leicester side who had won on their last five visits to Sale since a 15-12 reversal at Edgeley Park in September 2009.
Yet the Sharks began brightly, and Cipriani put them ahead with an early penalty before hooker Tommy Taylor was sin-binned in the ninth minute for coming in at the side at a maul.
Leicester, who got off the mark with a penalty from Freddie Burns, should have made their pressure pay but Goneva lost the ball after the Tigers worked the ball across the face of the Sale defence to the right corner.
The visitors were dominating possession but Peter Stringer and Cipriani began to come to the fore for Sale.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Sharks enjoyed plenty of possession inside Leicester's 22 and they led in the 21st minute thanks to a piece of class from Cipriani.
The England fly-half drove at the heart of the Tigers' defence and found Nev Edwards with a long pass out wide on the left flank.
His progress was halted but Sale recycled the ball and forward Cameron Neild was on hand to cross the line from close range.
Cipriani converted and, with Leicester losing Burns to injury, Sale scored again in the 29th minute when winger Will Addison hacked the ball downfield and, although he was tackled, Sam James sent Edwards over the line.
Leicester replied two minutes before the break when full-back Tommy Bell went over in the left corner from Tuliagi's pass.
Owen Williams, who had landed an earlier penalty, converted the try to make it 17-13 to Sale at the break.
Leicester lost Laurence Pearce to the sin-bin early in the second half before thunder and lightning forced play to be halted.
When play resumed, Leicester struck as Williams' long pass sent Goneva over in the left corner and Williams added a fine touchline conversion.
But Sale were not to be denied as Cipriani collected possession inside Leicester's 22 and weaved his way over before adding the conversion.