Sale give the departing de Klerk and de Jager a perfect send off
Sale marked the departures of South Africa duo Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager in perfect fashion as they recorded a 42-19 Gallagher Premiership victory over Bristol at the AJ Bell Stadium. De Klerk has become a Sale favourite, turning out consistently-excellent performances over the past five years, while de Jager has been a man mountain whenever he has been on the pitch.
Injuries have hampered the Springbok lock’s Sharks career but he and de Klerk were at their best as they hammered a forlorn Bristol team. They utterly dominated the first half, touching down four times through Tom Roebuck, Akker van der Merwe and Cobus Wiese’s brace.
Toby Fricker crossed the whitewash and Nathan Hughes scored a double in the second period to give the visitors some consolation, but Sale managed two of their own via Dan du Preez and Arron Reed.
It was far too easy for the Manchester outfit, who controlled the opening half-hour and scored three tries. Their scrum was in fine working order and from a solid platform, de Klerk went down the blindside and fed Roebuck to score.
Bristol were struggling to stop the home side’s big runners and van der Merwe displayed his power by shaking off several would-be tacklers to touch down. Wiese did similar – albeit this one was from closer range – to provide Sale with a 21-point buffer after just 23 minutes.
Alex Sanderson’s men continued to dominate territory and possession before the Bears briefly threatened. Pat Lam’s charges showed what they can do by counter-attacking from deep, running excellent support lines and off-loading superbly in the tackle, but a forward pass to Fricker ruined what would have been a try of the season contender.
It rather summed up their day – as well as their campaign – and that error was compounded when the hosts scored a fourth try through Wiese. Bristol, to their credit, were much better at the start of the second period and their endeavour was rewarded through Fricker’s score. Lam’s side were also a bit more solid defensively, preventing Sale from adding to their tally until the 63rd minute.
By that point, de Klerk had already departed to a rapturous reception from the fans as it was left to another Springbok – number eight Dan du Preez – to do the honours by touching down. Reed followed him soon after, going over for a brilliant individual try before Hughes crossed the whitewash twice late on to give the Bears some cheer on an otherwise-disappointing afternoon.
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