Saffas Abroad: Esterhuizen, Du Preez twins excel looks back at the South African players who featured for their respective clubs in the ninth round of the English Premiership.

– The Bristol Bears held on to top spot on the Premiership log after earning a hard-fought 18-17 win over Gloucester at Kingsholm. Gloucester, who have won just one of their opening nine games, were without regular No 8 Ruan Ackermann, who sat out the action this past weekend.

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– The Sale Sharks faltered in their quest to close the gap on Bristol after losing 27-22 to Bath despite a brave comeback in the second half. Daniel du Preez, captain Jono Ross and Jean-Luc du Preez lined up in Sale’s back row and all had outstanding outings, making a combined 53 carries and 186 metres between them. Daniel du Preez and Ross scored a try each. Also starting for Sale, was lock JP du Preez, tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen and flyhalf Robert du Preez. Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk was on the bench, but had a good impact when he came on in the 50th minute, making four carries and 63 passes. Bath had loosehead prop Juan Schoeman in their starting lineup, while Tian Schoeman played at inside centre after coming off the bench in the 48th minute.

– Andre Esterhuizen scored a try to help Harlequins claim their third win in a row and go level with Sale on the Premiership log with a 37-24 bonus-point victory over the Leicester Tigers. Esterhuizen continued his excellent form since returning from his ban, running an excellent line off a scrum to break the line and score after the half-time hooter. The Springbok centre made eight carries and 34m in total, beating seven defenders, making six passes and one offload. Lock Stephan Lewies continued in his role as Harlequins captain and completed all eight his tackles while also making seven carries for 22m. Also in action for Harlequins were props Simon KerrodJordan Els and Wilco Louw. Leicester were captained by outside centre Jaco Taute and had Hanro Liebenberg and Cyle Brink in their loose trio, while loosehead prop Luan de Bruin also started.

– The Exeter Chiefs moved to within a point of league-leaders Bristol Bears with a 26-3 win over London Irish. The defending champions once again had Don Armand on the bench, who played 29 minutes at lock. Meanwhile, London Irish had Scotland-capped loosehead prop Allan Dell among their substitutes.

– Wasps continued their hunt for a place in the top four by holding on to claim a 17-13 away victory over the Worcester Warriors. Wasps are now in sixth place, four points away from fourth-placed Harlequins. The Worcester Warriors, meanwhile, are just one point ahead of last-placed Gloucester. In action for Worcester was centre Francois Venter, Scotland-capped No 8 Cornell du Preez and tighthead prop Nic Schonert, while Richard Palframan and GJ van Velze were substitutes. Du Preez stood out as he made 11 carries and 14 tackles, winning one turnover.

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Photo: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

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Dylan Jack