• Saffas Abroad: Sale’s Saffas, Exeter’s Vermeulen star

    Faf de Klerk and Jacques Vermeulen put in standout performances as the Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs both scored big wins in the Premiership this weekend.

    – The Exeter Chiefs went 14 points clear at the top of the table as they demolished an understrength Worcester Warriors side 59-7 in Exeter. Jacques Vermeulen got in on the action, playing the full 80 minutes and scoring one of Exeter’s nine tries. In total, the loose forward only missed two of his attempted 17 tackles, made a massive 51 metres from nine carries, with two defenders beaten and two clean breaks. He also made five passes and won a turnover in another solid performance from the former Sharks and Western Province player. The Worcester Warriors – who are 10th on the Premiership table – had three South Africans in their starting lineup: fullback Scott van Breda, tighthead prop Richard Palframan and No 8 GJ van Velze.

    – A South African-laden Sale Sharks side lifted themselves into second place on the table by claiming a convincing 40-7 win against a much-changed Bristol Bears side – their second successive win since the restart. Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk had easily his best performance of a disrupted season, scoring one of Sale’s six tries and assisting another. De Klerk also made 15 kicks, 47 passes and ran 65m from five carries. Also impressive for Sale was Akker van der Merwe as the hooker put in a typically tigerish display, with five defenders beaten, 25m made from seven carries, two turnovers and six tackles. Jean-Luc du Preez and Lood de Jager had their best outing as a second-row partnership, while Dan du Preez and Coenie Oosthuizen were also very good. Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Jono Ross both enjoyed impressive cameos off the bench for the Sharks, with Van Rensburg partnering with England’s Manu Tuilagi for the first time in the second half.

    WATCH: Jean-Luc and Faf combine for try

    – Harlequins kept their hopes of a top-four finish alive with a good second-half performance steering them to a 30-17 victory over the Northampton Saints. Simon Kerrod played 70 minutes at tighthead prop for Harlequins and made eight carries, two tackles and two offloads. Harlequins also had Stephan Lewies at lock, who played 79 minutes, making 11 tackles and winning seven lineouts. Shaun Adendorff continued his impressive start to life in the Premiership at No 8 for Northampton, with 42m from five carries, five tackles, one offload and one clean break.

    – Gloucester bounced back from their defeat by Saracens by holding out against a second-half comeback to beat the Leicester Tigers 46-30, after leading 36-17 at half time. Ruan Ackermann played 60 minutes at blindside flank for Gloucester, making 14m from five carries and completing all six of his tackles. Hooker Franco Marais and loosehead prop Corne Fourie were both brought off the bench for Gloucester in the final 10 minutes.

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    Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

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    Dylan Jack