Premiership: Sale Sharks 13-35 Leicester Tigers
|Sale Sharks (6) 13|
|Try: Yarde Con: MacGinty Pens: MacGinty 2|
|Leicester Tigers (7) 35|
|Tries: Holmes 2, Ford, Williams Cons: Ford 3 Pens: Ford 2 Drop-Goal: Ford|
George Ford ensured Leicester Tigers qualified for the European Champions Cup, scoring 20 points in their final-day Premiership victory at Sale.
Tigers, who miss out on the play-offs for the first time in 14 years, led 7-6 at the break with Jonah Holmes grabbing the only try of the first half.
Two penalties, a try and drop-goal from Ford, and further tries from Holmes and Mike Williams ensured victory.
Marland Yarde grabbed Sales' only try in their season-ending defeat.
The Sharks went into the match knowing that containing Leicester and securing a bonus-point win themselves would see them clinch a Champions Cup spot ahead of the Tigers, but they trailed throughout.
AJ MacGinty contributed their only first-half points from the kicking tee, with the opening 40 minutes made all the more painful for the hosts as Will Addison had his final match at a Sale player cut short by injury, with the Ulster-bound centre limping off after just eight minutes.
Ford extended the score to 20-6 before Yarde hit back for the Sharks, but that was as close as they would get as Tigers finished an overwhelmingly disappointing campaign by salvaging a spot in Europe's top-flight competition.
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond:
"We will bring players with international experience to the club but, no, the Irish lads [Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding] aren't coming.
"They are looking for jobs, we're looking for players so we're always going to be linked.
"With our ability behind the scenes to catch the other 11 teams up in what they spend, world-class players are on the radar.
"It's a recruitment job now for the next three or four months."
Leicester head coach Matt O'Connor:
"The players knew what we had to do to make sure we were playing in the Champions Cup and that's what we're about.
"That's what the club stands for and it's what we had to deliver today."
On Ford: "That was as good a game as he's had in a Tigers shirt this time around.
"He had some games like that when we were both here last but that's the best he's played. He was phenomenal."
Sale Sharks: Haley; McGuigan, S James, Addison, Yarde; MacGinty, De Klerk; Harrison, Webber, John, Evans, Ostrikov, Ross (capt), T Curry, Strauss.
Replacements: Jones, Tarus, Aulika, Beaumont, B Curry, Cliff, Leota, L James.
Leicester Tigers: Veainu; Holmes, Tuilagi, Tait, May; G Ford (capt), Youngs; Genge, Polota-Nau, Cole, Fitzgerald, Kitchener, Williams, O'Connor, Kalamafoni.
Replacements: McGuigan, Bateman, Mulipola, Wells, Mapapalangi, Harrison, J Ford, Worth.
Referee: Wayne Barnes.