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Sale just about hold on against Gloucester after first-half Rob du Preez red card

(Photo by PA)

Sale Sharks overcame a first-half red card for Rob du Preez to boost their Premiership playoff prospects following a 25-22 triumph over Gloucester at the AJ Bell Stadium. Du Preez was sent off in the 26th minute with the Sharks leading 12-5 through tries from Faf de Klerk and Arron Reed.


Jonny May had responded for the Cherry and Whites prior to that incident and George Barton then added a penalty to give them a huge chance of upsetting the playoff challengers in the second period.

That seemed to be a long shot when an AJ MacGinty penalty and Marland Yarde try moved the hosts 14 points ahead but quick-fire scores from Santiago Carreras and Willi Heinz levelled matters.

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Gloucester had the momentum but it was Sale who wrestled it back to claim the win through MacGinty’s three-pointer. Despite their hammering at the hands of La Rochelle in the Champions Cup quarter-finals, the Sharks have been in fine form and they began this encounter in excellent fashion.

Alex Sanderson’s men consistently pressured the opposition defensive line and, although one opportunity went awry, they were rewarded when du Preez broke through and off-loaded for de Klerk to score.

Sale were playing some fluent rugby but at times they overplayed and Gloucester capitalised as another stray pass allowed the Premiership strugglers to counter-attack. After the ball was kicked forward, it became a foot race between Luke James and May and there was only one winner as the wing touched down to reduce the arrears to 7-5.

Sale responded almost immediately, however, and constructed another well-worked try as Sam James’ inside pass sent Reed across the whitewash. Sharks were in control but they were dealt a blow when fly-half du Preez was correctly sent off for a dangerous tackle after tipping Val Rapava-Ruskin beyond the horizontal.


Barton then reduced the deficit from the tee before a breathless passage of play saw the ball regularly move from one end of the pitch to the other. Louis Rees-Zammit was deceived by the bounce when in an excellent position to score before the home side counter-attacked through James and MacGinty but the fly-half was unable to catch James’ pass when inside the opposition 22.

Both teams continued to attack and turn over the ball but, thankfully for both pack of forwards, play eventually came to a halt. That was the last significant action of the half as Sale went into the break four points in front.

The Sharks soon extended their lead in the second period as they began the half well, with MacGinty kicking a penalty. They were also handling the disparity in numbers impressively and were rewarded for their endeavour through Yarde’s try.

MacGinty was the architect of the score, weaving his way through the defence before the wing crashed over from close range. It appeared to be a long way back for Gloucester but they finally found the formula to take advantage of the red card.


Firstly, a fine Billy Twelvetrees pass meant Carreras could touch down before they produced a lovely move for Heinz to go over. Rees-Zammit was given the space to sprint down the right before he combined with Lewis Ludlow to send the scrum-half across the line unopposed.

Twelvetrees’ conversion levelled matters but Sale retook the lead through the boot of MacGinty, who bisected the uprights with ten minutes remaining. Gloucester went in search of the winner, playing the off-loading game which had served them so well in the second half, and thought they had it through Mark Atkinson.

However, it was chalked off for an illegal clear-out from Ed Slater and that proved decisive as the Sharks secured an important win.


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