De Klerk on fire as Sale run Gloucester ragged
PREMIERSHIP REPORT: Sale Sharks bared their teeth as they overcame Gloucester 30-15 at Kingsholm with a scintillating attacking display to make it back-to-back Premiership wins.
Tries from Chris Ashton, Faf de Klerk, Rob Webber and Denny Solomona earned the visitors a vital bonus-point victory as Steve Diamond’s side continued their rise up the table.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) December 29, 2018
Gloucester had started brightly and took the lead through Jaco Visagie’s first-half try, but they were unable to contain Sale’s backline as the visitors fought back to claim the spoils.
The hosts, who made five changes to the team that beat Newcastle Falcons, went into the game safe in the knowledge that they would start 2019 in third place whatever the result.
And they enjoyed the better of the early stages as Twelvetrees opened the scoring with a penalty on eight minutes before Charlie Sharples fed Visagie for the game’s first try.
But it was not long before Sale hit back after a Lewis Ludlow line-out steal provided the platform for Byron McGuigan to break forward before Ashton was released for the score.
Robert du Preez added the extras to cut the deficit to 10-7 before Sharks took to the front for the first time after piling the pressure on the Cherry and Whites.
A clean break from Ashton got Sale on the front foot, with James O’Connor then taking over and side-stepping his man before unleashing de Klerk, with du Preez converting again.
Du Preez was then on hand once again on the cusp of half time to convert a penalty, after Josh Beaumont stole a line-out on the Gloucester 22, to extend Sale’s lead to 17-10 at the break.
The home side were given a boost at the start of the second half when the influential de Klerk was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on after blocking a pass from Willi Heinz.
Gloucester’s man advantage did not last long, though, with Ludlow being sent to the bin moments later for hands in the ruck before du Preez kicked a penalty to stretch the lead to 20-10.
The Sharks added further punishment with their third try on 53 minutes, with Rob Webber crashing over the whitewash after a powerful driving maul from a line-out in the corner.
Du Preez was unable to convert, but Gloucester’s uphill task turned into a mountain when de Klerk won a turnover before spreading the ball wide to Solomona for the bonus-point try.
With time running out, Gloucester responded with their second try through replacement Henry Walker, who dotted down soon after coming on following a patient maul drive.
It was too little, too late, however, as Sale – despite having a late Luke James try ruled out due to a forward pass – emerged triumphant to move into the top six.
Tries: Visagie, Banahan
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Ashton, De Klerk, Webber, Solomona
Cons: Du Preez 2
Pens: Du Preez 2
Yellow cards: Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, 45); Lewis Ludlow (Gloucester, 48)
Gloucester: 15 Tom Hudson, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Freddie Clarke, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Henry Purdy.
Sale: 15 Chris Ashton, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 James O’Connor, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jean-Luc du Preez, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 James Phillips, 4 Josh Beaumont, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Luke James, 23 Ben Curry.
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Jonathan Healy.
TMO: Rowan Kitt.