Du Preez brothers headline Sharks whitewash of Ulster
MATCH REPORT: Sale Sharks began their Champions Cup campaign with a dominant 39-0 win over Ulster at Salford City Stadium on Sunday.
Tom Curry, Dan du Preez, Thomas Curtis, Byron McGuigan and Arron Reed were amongst the tries for the rampaging hosts, with Robert du Preez also getting over as well as contributing nine points from the tee.
It was an uncharacteristically lacklustre performance from Ulster, who offered little threat in Salford and drew a blank in a Champions Cup match for the first time.
To make matters worse, veteran Springbok Duane Vermeulen was yellow-carded for a cynical foul close to his own line in the first half.
After a cagey start, Sale took charge of proceedings – flank Curry dotted down with a quarter of an hour played after a smart one-handed offload from flyhalf Robert du Preez released wing Reed.
And moments after the hosts’ hooker Armand van der Merwe was denied a score following a TMO review, they powered over for a second try through Dan du Preez on 21 minutes, scrumhalf Fergus Warr the creator with a quickly-taken penalty.
A Robert du Preez penalty extended Sale’s lead on 27 minutes as they continued to control the game, and their pressure saw Ulster No.8 Duane Vermeulen sin-binned for an offence close to his own line on the half-hour mark.
Ulster defended resolutely after going down to 14 men, preventing Sale from adding any further points as they battled their way to half-time.
However, Sale’s firm grip on the game continued following the restart, and despite Ulster returning to their full complement, Robert du Preez added the third try for the home side after a stroke of fortune saw an attempted offload land back in his hands after deflecting off a defender.
After a number of fruitless visits to the Ulster 22, Sale secured the bonus point on 65 minutes as a slick move off a scrum saw replacement back Curtis hit a flat line and dive over under the posts.
And there was time for two more scores as Ulster’s defence began to splinter, replacement back McGuigan first profiting from a poorly executed quick line-out from the away side before wing Reed rounded things by finishing a superb team move in the corner.
Ulster will look to bounce back in Round Two this coming Saturday as they welcome last season’s champions Stade Rochelais to Ravenhill Stadium, with Sale playing next Sunday as they visit five-time winners Stade Toulousain.
For Sale Sharks
Tries: Curry, D du Preez, R du Preez, Curtis, McGuigan, Reed
Cons: R du Preez 3
Pen: R du Preez
Yellow card: Duane Vermeulen (Ulster, 30 – cynical foul close to his own line)
Sale Sharks: 15 Joe Carpenter, 14 Arron Reed, 13 Sam James, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Rob du Preez (captain), 9 Gus Warr, 8 Daniel Du Preez, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jean-Luc du Preez, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rodd.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 Jono Ross, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Tom Curtis, 23 Byron McGuigan.
Ulster: 15 Mike Lowry, 14 Ethan McIlroy, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Matty Rea, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor (captain), 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andy Warwick.
Replacements: 16 Tom Stewart, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Marcus Rea, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 Stewart Moore, 23 Ben Moxham.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Jonathan Dufort (France), Flavien Hourquet (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)