Sale Sharks comprehensively beat a young Bristol Bears side at AJ Bell Stadium with the Sharks bulling the Bears scoring six tries on their way to a 40-7 victory.
There were fears that the only Premiership clash on Saturday would be a mismatch with Sale Sharks fielding a near full-strength 23 against a largely changed and youthful Bristol Bears side. Those fears were proven correct as Steve Diamond's men came flying out of the blocks scoring four tries and secure a bonus point against an understrength Bristol Bears in the opening 32 minutes.
Pat Lam chose the clash in Manchester as the game he would rest players with just Piers O’Conor and Ed Holmes remaining the starting XV from the midweek loss to a second string Exeter side. Nine Bristolians featured in the matchday 23 with ten academy graduates and a debut for Jack Bates, who at 19 years and 95 days became the second-youngest player to start a Premiership game for Bristol.
Steve Diamond was quickly rewarded for backing his star mean with Luke James opening the scoring in the sixth minute. The opening try was well worked from a penalty with the ball going out to Dan du Preez who fended off two defenders before flicking a lovely offload out of the back of his hand to send Luke James over the line for his fourth try in four games.
— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) August 29, 2020
It didn't take too long for Sale Sharks to add to their lead with Denny Solomona dotting down for the side's second try just moments after scoring their first. Solomona picked up a loose ball after a poor pass from Bristol Bears' pivot Tiff Eden.
Just seven minutes later Faf de Klerk had scored Sale's fourth with the Springbok halfback running a great support line to finish off a well worked try. Sale spread the ball out wide to the right before Denny Solomona was well defended which led to Manu Tuilagi ripping the ball of him and went speeding down the flank.
He found Jean-Luc du Preez in support who gave the final pass out to Faf de Klerk. The bonus point score came from Sam James who finished off a lovely counter attack that was started by Marland Yard who raced up to halfway before Sale shifted it right. The ball brushed off a Bristol hand before reaching Solomona who sent Sam James away. That would be Solomona's final play of the game as he was ejected due to the agreement between the Premiership and Players on playing minutes.
Alapati Leiua pounced on a lobbed pass from AJ MacGinty to opening the scoring for Bristol Bears as the hosts lead 40-7 at half time.
The second half got off to a similar start to the first with Luke James adding another try to his tally thanks to a brilliant flat ball from Faf de Klerk to Sam James before MacGinty floated it out to James to finish it off.
A great flat pass from Faf de Klerk 👏 pic.twitter.com/DAjw9ehyXO— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) August 29, 2020
Again, Sale hit soon after scoring with Marland Yarde adding his name to the scoresheet just three minutes after MacGinty popped over the extras for James' second try. The winger received a nice inside ball from Faf de Klerk and Yarde fended off the first defender before rolling over the line.
Sale lead 40-7 after 54 minutes as the game become a bit more closely fought with both sides making a number of changes. The Bears put some pressure on the Sharks' in the latter stages of the game but the home side was just too strong with the likes of Jono Ross, Rohan Janse van Rensburgh and Matt Postlethwaite making telling contributions off the bench.
The likes of Harry Randall and Ioan Lloyd also exciting off the bench for the visitors. In the end, Sale held out for victory. The Sharks head to Welford Road in the next future next Saturday while Bristol visit Sixways to face Worcester Warriors.
The victory sees Sale Sharks move into second place on the Premiership standings while Bristol walked away with no league points from the clash and now sit in third just one point ahead of Bath who host Wasps on Monday with the visitors a further point behind Bath.
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