De Klerk helps Sale boost playoff hopes

Faf de Klerk put in a man-of-the-match performance to steer the Sale Sharks to a 34-14 bonus-point victory over the Northampton Saints on Tuesday night.

With the victory the Sale Sharks stay in the English Premiership’s top four on 64 points, with just two points separating the Manchester club and second-placed Wasps. The Bristol Bears could climb to within one point of the Sharks as they host the Leicester Tigers on Wednesday evening.

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Springbok scrumhalf De Klerk was at the forefront of the victory as he enjoyed one of his best outings for Sale in what has been a disrupted season for the 28-year-old.

In typical fashion, De Klerk consistently tested the Saints’ defensive line, with 11 carries and 25 metres made, beating three defenders and offloading once, while he also ensured that the Sharks were getting quick, crisp service from the breakdown, with 52 passes in 73 minutes.

The nippy scrumhalf combined effectively with fellow Springbok Rohan Janse van Rensburg – who started in the slightly unfamiliar position of right wing – to put his countryman over in the corner just before he was replaced. Janse van Rensburg also played 73 minutes adapted well to his new position, making 44m from four carries, missing none of his five tackles, beating one defender and making two linebreaks.

On defence, De Klerk missed just one of his four attempted tackles and won a turnover penalty at the breakdown with the Northampton Saints near the Sale Sharks’ tryline.

Sale also had Robert du Preez at flyhalf, who picked up a try assist but only converted one of the Sharks’ six tries, while his younger brothers – Jean-Luc and Daniel – started at lock and No 8, respectively.

Of concern for Sale will be the fitness of lock Cobus Wiese as their new signing from the Stormers limped off after just 11 minutes with what appeared to be a knee injury.

Coenie Oosthuizen, who returned to tighthead prop after starting at loosehead in Sale’s previous outing, put in a solid 56-minute performance, making six carries, beating two defenders, making nine tackles and winning a turnover.

Hooker Akker van der Merwe, who also appears to be back in Springbok contention after missing out on the 2019 World Cup, had a bright cameo off the bench, playing 24 minutes, making 12m off two carries and beating one defender.

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Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

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