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Faf shines as Sale Sharks hold off Gloucester fightback

Faf de Klerk of Sale Sharks sprints for a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Sale Sharks and Gloucester Rugby at AJ Bell Stadium on March 12, 2022 in Salford, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for Sale Sharks)

Sale Sharks remain in the hunt for a top-four place after they overcame fellow play-off hopefuls Gloucester 26-24 at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday.


In an entertaining encounter, the Sharks went into the break 19-12 ahead thanks to tries from Faf De Klerk, AJ MacGinty and JP Du Preez.

The Cherry and Whites remained in contention, however, as Santiago Socino touched down twice, but the game appeared to be slipping away when Jean-Luc Du Preez crossed the whitewash for the hosts.

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Back in the Game – RFU

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Back in the Game – RFU

Sale were in complete control but a Charlie Chapman intercept got the visitors back into the game before Louis Hillman-Cooper set up an exciting finale. However, the home side held on for the win.

Having endured a nightmare first half in last week’s clash against Exeter Chiefs, the Sharks were determined to put that right.

In windy conditions, they controlled the aerial battle early on, with Arron Reed always a threat running on to De Klerk’s box-kicks, and they deservedly took the lead.

It was the scrum-half who went over but most of the good work was done by Dan Du Preez after the number eight charged through the middle and sent his fellow Springbok across the whitewash.


Unperturbed by that setback, the Cherry and Whites hit back with their first real foray into opposition territory. The hosts conceded a string of penalties and that allowed the visitors to build using their trusty maul.

Their lineout drive has been a potent weapon all season and the Sharks were powerless to stop it as Socino crossed the whitewash.

George Barton’s conversion gave George Skivington’s men the lead but they did not hold onto it for long as the home side regained their five-point buffer.

Sale got quick ball close to the Gloucester line and eventually MacGinty went over to provide his side with a 10-7 advantage.


The fly-half was injured in the process of scoring, however, meaning that De Klerk took on kicking duties, but the South African made no mistake from the tee.

Gloucester had struggled for territory and possession but they are a resilient and clinical outfit and once more they responded when an opportunity presented itself.

Again it was the maul that did the damage as Socino completed his brace to level matters after half-an-hour.

It was proving to be a see-saw first half and just shy of the interval the Sharks had the lead for the third time when JP Du Preez touched down to move them 19-12 ahead at the break.

The Sharks took that momentum into the second period when they secured the bonus point. Luke James made the initial incursion before replacement Sam Hill took it on further and Jean-Luc Du Preez eventually finished off a fine attack.

Alex Sanderson’s men were the dominant outfit and were pressing for the try that would surely end the game as a contest, but an utterly brainless De Klerk pass – and a brilliant read from Chapman – saw the Gloucester man intercept and run the distance to get his team back into the contest.

It almost changed the course of the match as a few minutes later the Cherry and Whites were just two points in arrears when Hillman-Cooper crossed the whitewash and Barton converted.

But to Sale’s credit, they managed the latter stages well and duly claimed a priceless victory in the hunt for the play-offs.


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Jon 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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finn 11 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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FEATURE Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma