Sale Sharks 27-10 Bristol Bears: Rob du Preez stars as hosts climb Premiership table
|Sale (14) 27|
|Tries: Solomona, Cliff Con: R du Preez Pens: R du Preez 5|
|Bristol (3) 10|
|Try: Luatua Con: Sheedy Pen: Madigan|
Rob du Preez kicked 17 points as Sale leapfrogged Bristol Bears in the Premiership table with a 27-10 win.
Ian Madigan's penalty gave Bristol an early lead but Sale hit back after Bears forward George Smith was sin-binned for a trip.
Denny Solomona's try and five Du Preez penalties gave the Sharks a 20-3 lead deep into the second half.
Steve Luatua's try threatened a Bristol comeback but Will Cliff's late score sealed victory for the Sharks.
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A fourth Premiership victory of the season means Sale have now only lost one of their past five league matches and climb to eighth in the table, two places and two points above the Bears.
But Steve Diamond's side struggled as Bristol dominated possession in the early stages and were rewarded when Madigan kicked them in front.
The Ireland fly-half missed with a second shot at goal, which proved costly when former Australia international Smith was shown the yellow card.
Sale levelled almost immediately through Du Preez's boot and took a lead they would never relinquish just before Smith returned to the field when Solomona touched down following a brilliant break by Sam James.
Four more penalties, including one from almost halfway, either side of half-time from South African fly-half Du Preez, on loan from Super Rugby side the Sharks, put Sale in control.
Bristol gave themselves hope when Luatua crashed over from close range but Cliff secured the hosts' win when the Television Match Official awarded his try in the corner.
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond:
On Sale's hopes of keeping Rob du Preez: "Negotiations are going well and we will probably be making around 10 to 12 announcements in the New Year of people who have signed and people who have re-signed, and Rob will hopefully be one of them.
"He's confident and he's good. It was wet conditions so it wasn't brilliant ball in hand across the field, but we managed to control the play."
On Sale's performance: "We managed, through our defence, to stop them playing. Every time they tried to get it out to their big lads on the wing, we were up in their faces and they couldn't get it there.
"Their number 10 had to turn back in and he must have carried eight or nine times in the first half and that was our intention; not to be able to get the pass away. I thought Tom Curry, Jean-Luc du Preez, Jono Ross and the front-row looked after that area really well."
Bristol Bears head coach Pat Lam:
"We started well but ultimately our game comes to life when we get all our little bits and pieces done well and we didn't do that.
"A lot of our fundamentals - catch, pass and discipline - (let us down). We started well, went 3-0 up and were putting pressure on them, and then we made a couple of mistakes which allowed them in. Then our discipline wasn't great.
"We spoke about it at half-time and about our kicking game, but again we didn't execute. I thought Du Preez and Faf de Klerk ran the game really well for them and we didn't manage our game as well, but that's the nature of this competition; you've got to win your home games and, when you come away, see what you can do."
Sale: Ashton; Solomona, James, O'Connor, McGuigan; R Du Preez, De Klerk; Harrison, Webber, John, Beaumont, Phillips, Ross (capt), T Curry, J-L Du Preez.
Replacements: Langdon, Bristow, Jones, Evans, Strauss, B Curry, Cliff, L James.
Bristol: C Piutau; Morahan, Hurrell, S Piutau (co-capt), Leiua; Madigan, Randall; Y Thomas, Thacker, Afoa, Vui, Muldowney, Luatua (co-capt), Smith, Lam.
Replacements: Lindsay, Woolmore, Thiede, Joyce, D Thomas, Uren, Sheedy, O'Conor.
Sin bin: Smith (13).
Referee: JP Doyle.
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