The three Du Preez brothers all starred to help the Sale Sharks claim a 22-19 victory over league-leaders the Exeter Chiefs in round nine of the Premiership this weekend.
– Franco van der Merwe got on the scoresheet as London Irish stunned the Northampton Saints with a 20-16 away win on Friday evening. The visitors trailed for much of the contest, despite Northampton losing a man to a red card, before striking a double blow in the final 10 minutes as Van der Merwe dotted down to bring them within a point before hooker Dave Poreki scored with two minutes left. Even though he was on the losing side, Cobus Reinach had another solid outing for the Saints, scoring their only try and making a last-ditch try-saving tackle to keep them in the lead. Also in action was loosehead prop Allan Dell, who got 20 minutes off the bench for the Irish.
– Bath brought themselves into the battle for the top four as they narrowly beat the Leicester Tigers 13-10. Jaco Taute was at outside centre for the Tigers, but struggled to get involved in the game, making six carries for five metres and six tackles. The result moved Bath into seventh place, two points adrift from fourth-placed Gloucester. Leicester, meanwhile, remain in 11th and are five points away from 10th-placed London Irish.
– The Bristol Bears broke their losing streak with a convincing 34-16 win against Gloucester. It was the Bears’ first Premiership win since November and got them to within one point of their opponents. Ruan Ackermann, Franco Mostert and Franco Marais all started for Gloucester, with Mostert and Marais both putting in shifts on defence. Marais made 16 tackles and two offloads, beating one defender, while Mostert made 19 tackles and poached a lineout. All three forwards, however, struggled to get into the game offensively.
– The Sale Sharks gave their Premiership title hopes a significant boost by holding on to claim a 22-19 victory over the Exeter Chiefs. The Sharks led 22-5 at half time thanks to tries from Dan du Preez and wings Chris Ashton and Byron McGuigan, with flyhalf Robert du Preez adding two conversions and a penalty. The Chiefs came back into the game with two second-half tries, but they were forced to settle for a losing bonus point. Apart from his try, Dan du Preez shone throughout the match, making 37m from 15 carries, 19 tackles and beating six defenders. Playing at lock, Jean-Luc du Preez also put up a fine individual performance, with 45m from 12 carries, 14 tackles, two clean breaks and a try assist. Sharks captain Jono Ross, meanwhile, topped the tackle count with an incredible 25 with a 100% success rate. Rohan Janse van Rensburg was at inside centre and beat two defenders, but was yellow-carded in the first half and thereafter substituted. Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen made a significant impact from the bench, with 19 tackles and six carries in the second half. The Chiefs had Jacques Vermeulen at flank, but he did not have the best of outings and was replaced in the 68th minute.
– Wasps put in a second-half showing to beat the Worcester Warriors 30-26 in a thrilling derby encounter on Saturday. In just their third Premiership win of the season, Wasps came from 13-5 down at the break to beat their rivals and draw level with them on 18 points on the table. Playing at outside centre for Wasps, Juan de Jongh began his return to form with 16m from six carries, six tackles and a clean break. No 8 Nizaam Carr was solid as ever, making 23m from eight carries, 13 tackles and beating a defender. The Warriors had tighthead prop Nic Schonert and No 8 Cornell du Preez in their starting lineup, bringing prop Richard Palframan and loose forward Gerrit-Jan van Velze off the bench. Francois Venter was an unused substitute.
– In the final match of the weekend, Harlequins piled more misery on Saracens as they demolished the defending champions 41-14 in a London derby at Twickenham Stoop. Harlequins moved into the top half of the table with the win and are one point away from the first four. Stephan Lewies was at lock for Harlequins and made 18 tackles, missing one, while poaching a lineout. Saracens fielded a largely second-string lineup, without their England internationals, but still had Vincent Koch at tighthead and the likes of flyhalf Manu Vunipola and Nick Isikwe starting.
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