Ford drives Sale into Premiership final as Tigers' tamed
George Ford guided Sale into the English Premiership final as they defeated his former club Leicester 21-13 on Sunday to end the reigning champions' hopes of successive titles.
Northwest club Sale will now face Saracens in a May 27 final at Twickenham, with the Sharks bidding to be crowned champions of England for the first time since 2006.
England fly-half Ford, controlling the match well late on, kicked three penalties and a conversion, while wings Tom Roebuck and Arron Reed both scored tries.
Sale won despite skipper Ben Curry being carried off injured and a determined Leicester display that led to a try for wing Harry Potter, plus eight points from the boot of Jimmy Gopperth.
Leicester's defeat meant former England wing Chris Ashton, the Premiership's record try-scorer, was denied a showpiece finish to his career in what is the 36-year-old's last season before retirement.
But this result might have been different had not Leicester, forced into a late change when South Africa fly-half Handre Pollard was ruled out injured, twice squandered try-scoring chances with poor kicks to touch that prevented attacking line-outs.
After two early Gopperth penalties, Roebuck scored a fine try, with Ford adding a difficult touchline conversion to give hosts Sale a 7-6 half-time lead.
By then, Curry had gone off with a suspected knee injury, while fellow England international Ben Youngs failed to return in the second half for Leicester after a head injury assessment.
Two penalties from Ford either side of Potter's converted try left the match in the balance at 13-13 heading into the final quarter.
But Sale pulled clear when Ford's loose pass was gathered off the deck by Reed for a try before the stand-off's penalty put the Sharks two scores clear.
London club Saracens, who topped the regular season table five points clear of second-placed Sale, beat Northampton 38-15 in Saturday's semi-final.