Leicester 28-23 Sale
Leicester (17) 28
- Penalty, Murphy, Tuilagi
- Flood 2
- Flood 2
Sale (10) 23
- McKenzie, Miller
- Macleod 2
- Macleod 2
Leicester moved into the Premiership top four with victory over Sale in an enthralling contest at Welford Road.
Tigers dominated early on and ran up a 17-point lead with a penalty try and a score by skipper Geordan Murphy.
Fraser McKenzie rounded off a fine Sale move as they clawed their way back.
After the break Alesana Tuilagi's stretched Tigers' lead but a sublime Rob Miller try put Sale back in it and they secured a bonus point at the death with Nick Macleod's drop-goal.
The game was less than a minute old when the visitors lost flanker Dave Seymour to a terrible head injury after clashing with his team-mate Henry Thomas in a tackle.
Things got worse for Sale when they conceded a series of scrum infringements which resulted in a penalty score.
Flood converted from under the posts and his deft step, after Ed Slater's turnover, created Murphy's try when he put Billy Twelvetrees into space who found the Ireland full-back outside him.
Flood converted with ease and added three more points from the boot to make it 17-0.
But the Sharks responded with a break by the fantastic Onosa'i Auva'a - in as Seymour's replacement - and some superb hands by Kearnan Myall to put McKenzie over.
Macleod converted to make it a 10-point game with half-an-hour gone and added a penalty two minutes later.
Thomas was carried from the field just before the break with a knee injury and as heavy rain fell Sale refused to veer from their offloading came.
The conditions eased after the break and Macleod was again on target with an early penalty which was quickly cancelled out by Flood.
Slater came close to scoring after charging down Dwayne Peel's attempted box kick but the rebound ran out of play.
A minute later Tigers fashioned a try in tight space after James Gaskell's leap out of defence gave Twelvetrees room to attack and some crisp handling saw Tuilagi race over.
But Sharks hit back with Miller's sensational try as Gaskell and Andy Powell produced sublime offloads to put their full-back over in the corner.
Macleod slotted the conversion to make it 25-20.
Flood, who had failed to convert Tuilagi's score, established an eight-point lead for Tigers with 10 minutes to go.
Sale refused to lie down as they continued to run everything and their valiant pursuit of a bonus point was rewarded at the close when MacLeod's 30-metre drop-goal sailed through the posts.
Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill: "We would have liked to have got a bonus point but it's a job done, nine points in two league matches over the holiday period with a quick turnaround and seven changes to our side.
"The breakdown area today was a farce. We are the team trying to play rugby but they are lying all over the tackle area and it has to be penalised.
"The officials didn't get it right today and a large holiday crowd deserve better."
Sale coach Tony Hanks:"The boys managed so well to deal with two late drop-outs and two early injuries. It will do a lot for their confidence.
"We kept at it and we never gave up, we just ran out of time but we definitely deserved something out of the game.
"Dave Seymour looked very bad when he came off but he seems okay now. I'm disappointed for the lad as he is the form number seven at the moment and could have displayed his talents on TV.
"Henry Thomas is on crutches, he turned a knee but hopefully it is not as bad as first feared."
Leicester: Murphy; Agulla, Smith, Twelvetrees, A Tuilagi; Flood, B Youngs; Castrogiovanni, Hawkins, Cole, Slater, Kitchener, Mafi, Salvi, Waldrom.
Replacements: Hamilton for Murphy (73), Young for Youngs (73), Stankovich for Castrogiovanni (28), Chuter for Hawkins (65), Croft for Slater (65), Woods for Salvi (40).
Sale: Miller; Brady, Leota, Tuitupou, Tuculet; MacLeod, Peel; Dickinson, Jones, Thomas, McKenzie, Myall, Gaskell, Seymour, Powell.
Replacements: Auva'a for Seymour (1), Titterrell for Jones (66), Cobilas for Thomas (37), Easter for Powell (66).
Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).