Sale reel in league leaders Saracens with narrow victory over Bristol, helped by Jean-Luc de Preez’s second-half try and brother Rob’s conversion and earlier penalty; visitors held lead at half-time and started second half well
Last Updated: 26/11/22 6:48pm
Sale Sharks’ fine start to the Gallagher Premiership season continued with a resilient 25-20 victory over Bristol Bears at the AJ Bell Stadium.
A competitive first half saw momentum swing both ways, though Bristol rallied to hold a two-point advantage at the interval, largely thanks to Piers O’Conor’s two converted tries.
Yet Jean-Luc du Preez’s second-half try, coupled with his brother Rob’s conversion and earlier penalty, powered the hosts to a seventh win of the season.
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, the hosts broke the deadlock nine minutes in as Rob du Preez skipped in for the opening try.
However, on Bears’ second attack, O’Conor found space on the right wing and broke free to bring the scores level, thanks to 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 then edged his side further ahead with a penalty as momentum swung Sale’s way, but after some sloppy play, Bristol’s Luke Morahan broke to the try-line and, despite being tackled, the ball was sprayed to O’Conor who had an easy run-in for his second.
And Bristol went into half-time with a two-point advantage after AJ MacGinty sent over a penalty in the closing seconds.
Bristol emerged from the break asking questions of Sale inside their 22 and won a penalty after an advantage was played, with former Shark MacGinty kicking between the posts again in the 47th minute.
But Sale responded with a penalty of their own two minutes later as Rob du Preez opted for and sent a long-range effort soaring over.
It remained tense 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 the visitors into touch in the in-goal area.
Sharks’ hard-fought win reels in league leaders Saracens while the 10th-placed Bears fell to their sixth loss on the bounce – their worst run of form in the Premiership since 2017.