Leicester more than played their part in a thrilling encounter as they edged past Sale to, for now at least take their place in the top four of the Aviva Premiership.

It is the latest twist in a season which has seen most teams going up and down the league table in the most unpredictable of ways.

Just as the so called “bigger clubs” such as Tigers, Saints, Saracens and Quins seem to be taking their places at the top of the pile another international break is due for the Six Nations, making these games ever more important for the likes of Leicester. The latest Six Nations 2012 betting suggests that Leicester will still be top when the tournament starts.

Leicester made the brighter start, taking a 17-0 lead before the Sharks struck back just before half time to reduce the deficit to 17-10 at the break.

The Second half was when the game really took to life with both teams running the ball and the lead for the Tigers was consistently cut and increased before a last gasp drop goal secured a losing bonus point for Sale as Leicester ran out 28-23 victors.

Both sides were in the main satisfied with the result, Leicester climbing into the top 4 and Sale keeping in touch with their Heineken Cup rivals. Leicester remains as one of the favourites to win the whole European tournament, with the Betfair Heineken cup rugby betting excahnges placing them at 3/1 to win.

The main talking point after the game aside from the magnificent spectacle was the performance of referee Andrew Small. Sharks fans had minor complaints regarding the awarding of a penalty try to the Tigers but the more vocal complaints came from the Tigers side.

Coach Richard Cockerill had major issues with the way Small controlled the breakdown and felt he allowed Sale to get away with far too much for what he deemed negative play. It seems unfair to describe Sale’s play as negative, they regularly tried to run from their own 22 and both sides produced an exciting spectacle to watch.

It will be interesting to see if Cockerill keeps his promise to give Small a negative report, especially in the light of their victory and move up into fourth place in the league, but his anger and comments to the press afterwards do certainly seem to suggest he was not entirely satisfied with the referee’s display.