Sale earn hard-fought win over Bristol

2 months ago 21
Tom Roebuck scoresTom Roebuck's excellent try gave Sale the lead midway through the first half
Sale: (15) 25
Tries: R du Preez, Roebuck, JL du Preez Cons: R du Preez 2 Pens: R du Preez 2
Bristol: (17) 20
Tries: O'Conor 2 Cons: Sheedy 2 Pens: MacGinty 2

Sale held off a late Bristol charge to consolidate second spot in the Premiership with a 25-20 win.

Piers O'Conor scored two first-half tries to help the Bears lead 17-15 at the break as the visitors' kicking game kept Sale at bay.

The two sides traded penalties early in the second period before Jean-Luc du Preez forced his way over from close range with 12 minutes left.

Bristol piled on pressure but Sale held firm for a seventh win from nine games.

Sale move on to 32 points, nine off leaders Saracens and six ahead of third-placed Harlequins.

Bristol's sixth-successive loss sees them stay second-from-bottom - the losing bonus point moved them four clear of London Irish, who have a game in hand.

Sale dominated the early possession and territory, and having forced a number of penalties in the right corner they finally broke Bristol's resolve as Jean-Luc du Preez's lovely quick offload sent his fly-half brother Rob over in the corner.

Had Tom Roebuck not mishandled as he dived over the line soon after Sale would have been further in front, but having been on the back foot for much of the opening quarter the Bears went ahead by two points with a wonderful try as O'Conor got on the end of a quick four-pass move down the blindside from 22 metres out.

But the lead lasted only three minutes as Roebuck superbly plucked Dan du Preez's hanging kick out of the air ahead of Charles Piutau and galloped in from the 22, before Rob du Preez's penalty extended the lead to eight points.

Soon after O'Conor went over again - a cavalcade of handling errors on both sides ended with Sale scrum-half Gus Warr losing the ball to Luke Morahan before the centre went over unchallenged - and Bristol went in front when replacement fly-half AJ MacGinty struck a penalty right on half-time against his former club.

MacGinty and Rob du Preez each kicked penalties in the opening 10 minutes of the second period before MacGinty missed a chance to put his side one point up.

Sale took advantage and eight minutes later went over as Jean-Luc du Preez powered over from close range after a five-metre lineout.

But the visitors, who have not won a game in the league since a 40-36 victory over London Irish two months ago, had their chances to snatch four points.

First a cross-field kick from MacGinty was palmed back by Morahan but Magnus Bradbury could not gather before the Sharks repelled multiple phases on their own line, with replacement scrum-half Joe Simpson bravely forcing Joe Jenkins into touch with six minutes left.

Sale: Carpenter; Roebuck, S James, S Hill, McGuigan; R du Preez, Warr; Harrison, van der Merwe, Schonert, Wiese, Beaumont, JL du Preez, Ross (capt), D du Preez.

Replacements: Taylor, McIntyre, Jones, Birch, Dugdale, Simpson, Wilkinson, Reed.

Bristol: Piutau; Morahan, O'Conor, Bedlow, Ibitoye; Sheedy, Porter; Woolmore, Byrne, Lahiff, Batley, Vui, Luatua (capt), Harding, Bradbury.

Replacements: Thacker, Benz-Salomon, Tyack, Hawkins, Heenan, Uren, MacGinty, Jenkins.

Referee: Adam Leal

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