The Saffa-laden Sale Sharks recorded an emphatic 40-7 bonus-point victory over the Bristol Bears in Eccles on Saturday.
With the result Sale overtake Bristol in second position on the English Premiership log, with three rounds of regular season fixtures remaining before the playoffs.
After a couple of indifferent performances, several of Sale’s South African contingent upped their game in this fixture, producing superb displays. Faf de Klerk, Dan and Jean-Luc du Preez, Lood de Jager, Coenie Oosthuizen and Akker van der Merwe all started and were excellent.
Centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg and loose forward Jono Ross were used as second-half replacements, with Janse van Rensburg in particular playing aggressively on attack and in defence when he came on.
Dan du Preez set up Sale’s first try when he freed up fullback Luke James with a stunning offload. The hosts would score three more tries to achieve the desired bonus point a little beyond the 30-minute mark. One of those tries were scored by De Klerk, whose excellent support line allowed him to be on the end of another top offload, this time from Jean-Luc du Preez, who took contact before popping the ball to his compatriot.
Trailing 26-7 at the break, the Bristol Bears needed to launch a comeback in the second half but failed. Instead, it was Sale who bamboozled their opponents to pull further ahead.
James completed his brace before De Klerk went on a darting run to release wing Marland Yarde for the final touchdown. The latter stages on the match fizzled out as both teams made a host of changes, but it mattered little as the game was effectively over by then.
Sale Sharks – Tries: Luke James (2), Denny Solomona, Faf de Klerk, Sam James, Marland Yarde. Conversions: AJ MacGinty (5).
Bristol Bears – Try: Alapati Leiua. Conversion: Tiff Eden.
Sale Sharks – 15 Luke James, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Ben Curry (c), 6 Tom Curry, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Ross Harrison.
Subs: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Valerey Morozov, 18 Will-Griff John, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Jono Ross, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Arron Reed.
Bristol Bears – 15 Max Malins, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Siale Piutau (c), 11 Jack Bates, 10 Tiff Eden, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 James Dun, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Ed Holmes, 3 Yann Thomas, 2 Will Capon, 1 Jake Woolmore.
Subs: 16 George Kloska, 17 Peter McCabe, 18 Kieron Assiratti, 19 John Hawkins, 20 Mitch Eadie, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Charlie Powell.