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Match Reaction: Gloucester 15-30 Sale Sharks

Match Reaction: Gloucester 15-30 Sale Sharks

Sale Sharks eased any relegation worries going into the new year with their second successive Gallagher Premiership Rugby win with a four-try triumph against Gloucester Rugby.

Tries from Chris Ashton and Faf de Klerk, plus seven points from the boot of Robert du Preez, helped the visitors take a 17-10 into the break after Jaco Visagie had given Gloucester the lead.

Further scores from Rob Webber and Denny Solomona after the restart sealed the bonus point for Sale at Kingsholm, before Matt Banahan grabbed a consolation try for the hosts.

Luke James had a late try ruled out by the TMO for a forward pass, but it ultimately made no difference as Sharks finished 2018 with back-to-back Premiership wins.

The victory means Sale, who have only lost once in their past seven league games, move up to fifth in the table – seven points off third-placed Gloucester and one behind Northampton in fourth.

MAN OF THE MATCH

A tough one as Sale had strong performances from players all over the pitch, but while it would be easy to give the nod to Faf de Klerk again, it’s hard to look past Chris Ashton.

His try gave the visitors all-important momentum after the Cherry and Whites had started the game quickly, while he also played a key role in the second try for de Klerk.

Ashton’s score was his first in the Premiership for Sale and if his showing against Gloucester is anything to go by, there will be many more to come in the second half of the season.

TRY OF THE MATCH

Plenty of competition as Sale showed plenty of attacking flair, but the honour has to go to Faf de Klerk’s try just before the half-hour mark after a fantastic team move.

It started with a lineout steal before Chris Ashton made a clean break and released James O’Connor, who side-stepped his made and found de Klerk in space.

The South African scrum-half juggled with the ball before clutching onto it and diving over the line to put Sale ahead for the first time in the game – a lead they never relinquished again.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

There were plenty of key moments, including the two yellow cards early in the second half for Faf de Klerk and Lewis Ludlow, but Chris Ashton’s try was crucial.

After a Billy Twelvetrees penalty and Jaco Visagie try had given the hosts the early advantage, the England international’s class ensured Sale got back into the game quickly.

Byron McGuigan collected Willi Heinz’s box kick after Ludlow had stolen a Sale lineout and released Ashton down the wing as he raced across the whitewash for his first Premiership try for the club.

WHAT THEY SAID

Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond said: “We didn’t have as much ball as we liked. We were able to control Gloucester’s forward pack, which has been on fire.

“When we did get the ball, we took our opportunities well. We could’ve got a good hiding, or we could come here and put our front foot forward and that’s what we did.”

Gloucester Rugby head coach Johan Ackermann said: “A lot of things went wrong as our line-out work was scrappy and we missed opportunities resulting from that as our passing was inaccurate, going low and behind.

“Apart from the first quarter of an hour, they were more hungry and more desperate than us – and there are no weak teams in this competition.

“It’s disappointing to lose at home as we wanted to end 2018 in style and we have to apologise to our supporters for that performance.

“We let ourselves down as we need to be on top of our game each week and we need to come back to our standards next week.”

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