Du Preez's boot keeps Sale play-off hopes alive
PREMIERSHIP WRAP: Sale Sharks secured their place in the European Champions Cup for next season with a hard-fought 16-7 Premiership comeback victory at the Coventry Building Society Stadium.
The win also kept alive Sale’s slim hopes of a playoff spot but a number of other sides’ results have to go their way if they are to climb to the necessary fourth place.
Wasps were deserved losers and are now in danger of missing out on a Champions Cup berth with no points from this clash and a trip to league leaders Leicester in their final fixture next week.
For Sale, Robert Du Preez kicked three penalties and converted a try from Akker Van Der Merwe, while Wasps crossed over through Gabriel Oghre as Jimmy Gopperth added the extras.
In the other fixture on Friday, Exeter Chiefs’ hopes of reaching the Premiership play-offs for a seventh successive season were effectively ended after Bristol beat them 40-33 at Ashton Gate.
Two losing points means that Exeter still have the tiniest mathematical chance of progressing, but they are four points behind fourth-placed Northampton with just one game left.
Saints or Gloucester can end Exeter’s chances in their games on Saturday, leaving the Chiefs – six times Premiership finalists – facing an early finish to their season for the first time since 2015.
They fought their way back from 14 points adrift in an 11-try thriller, but wing Toby Fricker’s interception try and a later Luke Morahan score saw Bristol home.
Fricker and Morahan apart, full-back Charles Piutau crossed twice for Bristol, with fly-half Callum Sheedy and centre Alapati Leiua also touching down, while Sheedy kicked four conversions and Ioan Lloyd one.
Exeter went blow for blow through touchdowns for Santiago Grondona, Josh Hodge, James Kenny, Olly Woodburn and Dave Ewers – Joe Simmonds booted four conversions – but Bristol prevailed through a powerful finish.
* Friday scorers and scorers
Bristol Bears 40-33 Exeter Chiefs
For Bristol Bears:
Tries: Sheedy, Piutau 2, Leiua, Fricker, Morahan
Cons: Sheedy 4, Lloyd
For Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Grondona, Hodge, Kenny, Woodburn, Ewers
Cons: Simmonds 4
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Toby Fricker, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Steven Luatua (captain), 7 Sam Jeffries, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 John Afoa, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Jono Benz-Salomon, 18 Jake Armstrong, 19 Fitz Harding, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Jack Bates
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Josh Hodge, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Sam Maunder, 8 Jacques Vermeulen, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Sam Skinner, 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 James Kenny, 18 Patrick Schickerling, 19 Dafydd Jenkins, 20 Santiago Grondona, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Tom Hendrickson
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Mike Hudson, Phil Watters
TMO: Tom Foley
Wasps 7-16 Sale Sharks
For Sale Sharks:
Try: Van der Merwe
Cons: R Du Preez
Pens: R Du Preez 3
Wasps: 15 Ali Crossdale, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Charlie Atkinson, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Alfie Barbeary, 7 Jack Willis, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Biyi Alo, 2 Gabriel Oghre, 1 Tom West
Replacements: 16 Dan Frost, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Elliot Millar-Mills, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Will Porter, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Paolo Odogwu
Sale Sharks: 15 Sam James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Robert du Preez, 12 Manu Tuilagi 11 Arron Reed, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Simon Hammersley
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Sara Cox, Alex Thomas
TMO: Claire Hodnett
Source: PA & Rugbypass