De Klerk snatches late draw for Sale
MATCH REPORT: Faf de Klerk’s last-minute penalty came back off the post as Sale Sharks had to settle for a 20-20 draw away to Bristol Bears in a thrilling Premiership Rugby encounter.
The South African scrumhalf scored a try and a long-range penalty but was inches away from winning it for the Sharks at Ashton Gate.
Ian Madigan had missed two late penalty attempts for Bristol, who never led but almost snatched victory.
Sale had started fast with a try from Denny Solomona, intercepting a pass by Callum Sheedy and sprinting home from inside his own half.
AJ MacGinty converted and added a penalty as Sale opened up an early 10-0 lead.
Bristol responded, Charles Piutau crossing in his first game back since recovering from a calf injury, Callum Sheedy converting.
A long-range penalty from Faf de Klerk pushed the lead back to six points, but Sheedy responded to make it 13-10 at the break.
De Klerk then finished a fine try made by a Ben Curry break down the left, finding his scrumhalf on the inside.
But Bristol responded immediately through Alapati Leiua to get back to within three points.
The wing almost had a second ten minutes from time, but it was ruled out with Chris Ashton and Sheedy grappling and opening up the space for him run through. Still, Sheedy was able to add a penalty to level the scores and as it turned out, that was the final score despite a frantic finish.
For Bristol Bears:
Tries: Piutau, Leiua
Cons: Sheedy 2
Pens: Sheedy 2
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Solomona, De Klerk
Cons: MacGinty 2
Pens: MacGinty, De Klerk
Yellow Card: Jono Ross (Sale Sharks, 79)
Bristol: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Tom Pincus, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Callum Sheedy (co-captain), 9 Andy Uren, 8 Nick Haining, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steve Luatua (co-captain), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Ed Holmes, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Nick Fenton-Wells, 17 James Lay, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Jordan Crane, 20 George Smith, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Luke Daniels.
Sale: 15 Luke James, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 James O’Connor, 11 Chris Ashton, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Tom Curry, 6 Ben Curry, 5 James Phillips, 4 Josh Beaumont, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Valery Morozov, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Arron Reed.
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Paul Dix.
TMO: David Grashoff