Premiership: Sale Sharks edge out Bristol in a tight clash as Du Preez brothers secure win

Sales Sharks duo Rob du Preez and Jean-Luc du Preez. Credit: Alamy
Sales Sharks duo Rob du Preez and Jean-Luc du Preez. Credit: Alamy

Sale Sharks strengthened their hold on second spot in the Premiership table with a 25-20 win against Bristol Bears in a hard-fought clash.

After a first half that saw both teams have periods of dominance and momentum, Bristol managed to go into the break with a lead powered by a Piers O’Conor brace.

However, it was the Du Preez brothers who won the game for Sale as Jean-Luc crossed for a try in the last quarter as Robert obliged with the extras to secure the win.

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Bristol got off to a lively start with their first attack from the opening kick but failed to capitalise on O’Conor’s driving run, yet they remained largely under the cosh for the opening stages of the game as Sale drove to apply pressure inside the Bears’ 22.

Tom Roebuck had a try disallowed in the seventh minute but after three Sale mauls, Sharks broke the deadlock nine minutes in as Rob du Preez skipped in for the try.

However on Bears’ second attack, O’Conor found space on the right wing and broke free to bring the scores level, Callum Sheedy providing the extras.

Sale were quick to respond in the 23rd minute when Roebuck followed a Rob du Preez kick and touched down after snatching the ball in the air from Charles Piutau. Rob du Preez made no mistake with the conversion.

Rob du Preez edged his side further ahead with a penalty as momentum swung Sale’s way, but after some sloppy play Bears’ Luke Morahan broke to the try-line and, despite being tackled, the ball was sprayed to O’Conor who had an easy run-in.

And Bristol went into half-time with a two-point advantage after AJ MacGinty scored a penalty kick in the closing seconds.

Bristol emerged from the break asking questions of Sale inside their 22.

Bears won a penalty after an advantage was played with former Shark MacGinty kicking between the sticks in the 47th minute, but Sale responded with their own penalty two minutes later as Rob du Preez opted for and scored a long-range effort.

It remained tense inside the AJ Bell Stadium as Bristol looked to extend their lead with an attacking vigour that boxed Sharks into their own half.

But as the final quarter approached, it was Sharks’ turn to charge at Bristol’s defensive line.

In the 68th minute, a Sale maul drove over the line where the TMO eventually awarded Jean-Luc du Preez a try to swing the scores in Sharks’ favour.

Alex Sanderson’s side refused to let Bristol through in the 75th minute as their stubborn defensive guard pushed Bristol into touch in the in-goal area.

Sharks’ hard-fought win reels in league leaders Saracens while 10th-placed Bears fell to their sixth loss on the bounce – their worst run of form in the Premiership since 2017.

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