Sale Sharks vs Bristol Bears 21/22 Report 04/06

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42 Sale Sharks
19 Bristol Bears

Sat 04 Jun 3:00pm AJ Bell Stadium Attendance: 5869

Sale Sharks vs Bristol Bears

Faf de Klerk spent almost an hour signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans keen for a memento after his emotional final appearance for Sale.

It said much for the South African’s remarkable impact on the club during five seasons in north-west England.

Signed in 2017, the dashing scrum-half has revived his career, put Sale back on the map and earned himself iconic status in the process.

He also helped inspire South Africa to World Cup glory in 2019, proving himself one of the finest rugby talents on the planet, but a move to Japanese side Yokohama Canon Eagles now beckons.

De Klerk, 30, was the driving force behind this final-day victory which ensured a fitting farewell to the Springbok, if not quite a fairytale finish as he had a second-half try chalked off before departing to a standing ovation on the hour.

Director of rugby Alex Sanderson said: “Special people leave an indelible mark and as Faf moves on, I wish him well but there will be forever be a part of him in the Sale DNA.

“Letting Faf have the appreciation of the fans was great and we’ll have a good drink on the back of this win. It was a really good way to finish the campaign and we will take this feeling into pre-season, rather than being sour at not making the play-offs.”

There has been no major silverware to show for De Klerk’s efforts during his time at Sale and they have qualified for the play-offs only once since their solitary Premiership title in 2006.

Sale also bade farewell to two more South Africans in hard-hitting centre Rohan Janse van Rensberg and lock Lood de Jager, as well as the retiring full-back Simon Hammersley.

Sanderson, whose major signings for next season include Leicester fly-half George Ford and Exeter duo Jonny Hill and Tom O’Flaherty, handed De Klerk the captaincy for this game.

His educated left boot caused problems for Bristol from the off as Sale led 28-0 at the interval.

Their first try came when De Klerk collected possession at a scrum and threw a quick pass out to winger Tom Roebuck, who outmuscled Toby Fricker and dived over in the right corner.

Sale’s squad has a distinctly South African flavour and two more men from the Rainbow Nation got their names on the scoresheet.

First, hooker Akker van der Merwe showed brute force to gallop through a handful of visiting defenders and score following a line-out.

Cobus Wiese, the lock, then exposed further frailties in the Bristol rearguard to manoeuvre his way over from close range.

Wiese was at it again on the stroke of half-time, displaying impressive pace and strength to dive over inside the left channel.

Bristol, who had a well-worked score finished off by Fricker ruled out for a forward pass during the first half, eventually touched down through the winger early in the second half.

Callum Sheedy converted before De Klerk sauntered clear to touch down moments later.

The elation on the field and in the stands was short-lived, however, as the TMO adjudged he was offside.

It felt cruel and he departed along with South African half-back partner Rob du Preez to rapturous applause before Dan Du Preez and Arron Reed added further home scores.

Bristol trio Alapati Leiua, John Afoa and Nathan Hughes all made their farewell appearances, the back-rower scoring twice in the closing stages.

 

Previous meetings

A Friday
April 15th 2022
8:00pm

Ashton Gate
Heineken Champions Cup
Bristol Bears
29
:
Sale Sharks
35
H Saturday
April 9th 2022
1:00pm

AJ Bell Stadium
Heineken Champions Cup
Sale Sharks
9
:
Bristol Bears
10
A Friday
January 7th 2022
7:45pm

Ashton Gate
Gallagher Premiership
Bristol Bears
32
:
Sale Sharks
15