Last week, following Sale's 34-34 draw away at Worcester, I wrote that the 'AJ MacGinty era' of Sale Sharks rugby had begun after the Irish-cum-American slotted all five of his kicks to ensure Sale left Sixways with a valuable three-point haul.
Earlier that week, I also wrote that the only feasible solution to Sale's early-season backline woes was a patient approach whilst the Sharks' back division slowly acclimatised to each other and found a semblance of form and/or momentum.
On Saturday I was at least right about one thing.
Despite AJ MacGinty's 80-minute performance at fly-half, it would be outside centre Will Addison's turn to produce a flawless kicking performance with the 24-year-old converting all six of his opportunities at goal (four conversions and two penalties) to propel Sale to a prodigious 34-30 victory over Leicester Tigers at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Addison, who valiantly, if somewhat ineffectively, handled kicking duties against Gloucester a fortnight ago after starting fly-half Dan Mugford sustained a leg injury in the opening two minutes, ceded kicking duties back to MacGinty against Worcester last week only to find himself thrust back into the same role due to a flare up of MacGinty's hamstring injury that has plagued him since round one.
But whereas Addison was clearly rusty and unfamiliar serving as the team's primary goalkicker against Gloucester, the two weeks in between Sale's last home fixtures appear to have made a world of difference for the Cumbrian who went a perfect six-for-six from the tee and whose 14 point haul proved invaluable as Sale mustered their second win of the season over a very talented Leicester Tigers side.
Mike Phillips, who also produced his finest performance of the season to date, opened the afternoon's scoring with an opportunistic burst through the middle before Peter Betham sliced Sale's worryingly porous line defence open twice in the space of three minutes.
But Sale, playing on a Saturday afternoon for the first time this year, revelled in the firmer turf and better playing conditions that an afternoon kickoff provides and the misfiring backline which has been the ire of the Sharks' inconsistent start to the season came alive, Paolo Odogwu - continuing his ascension to stardom - and Johnny Leota both crashing over to bring an exhilarating first-half to a close in Sale's favour 24-20.
The game inevitably tightened up in the second-half despite tighthead Halani Aulika's powerful effort to secure Sale the try bonus point on 55 minutes. And despite Tigers' winger Adam Thompstone's sterling finish in the right corner which saw him somehow ground the ball through to covering defenders, Addison's impeccable boot saw Sale home to record what already feels like a potential season-changing victory - a five point win over a team seemingly destined for a top-four finish is the perfect remedy to Sale's early-season ills and should provide a platform for a renewed assault on the upper mid-table cluster.
With the win, Sale move back up to 5th in the table as of Sunday evening ahead of a trip to Bath and The Rec on Friday evening.
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