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Bristol Bears hold a slender advantage as they host Sale Sharks in the Heineken Champions Round of 16 second leg on Friday night.
There was little to separate the sides in the first leg at AJ Bell Stadium, with Bristol’s Semi Radradra coming off the bench to score the game’s only try on 69 minutes as the visitors picked up a 10-9 win.
Bristol will be aiming to win a fourth game in a row for the first time in the European Cup when they welcome Sale to Ashton Gate, for what is also the first knockout game they have hosted in the competition.
The game kicks off at 20:00 (UK & Irish time) and will be available to watch on BT Sport, beIN SPORTS and Sky Italia.
Your #HeinekenChampionsCup Try of the Round nominees, delivered by @DHLRugby 💪@UBBRugby’s Federico Mori @UlsterRugby’s Rob Baloucoune@ExeterChiefs' @StuartWHOGG_@MHR_Officiel’s @Mercer8Zach@ASMOfficiel’s Cheikh Tiberghien
Vote now ➡️ https://t.co/m9X9zTN5IN pic.twitter.com/bGePPKp3Jv
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 11, 2022
Other key stats:
- Bristol won the 1st leg against Sale – their first encounter in the European Cup – despite scoring their lowest tally of points in an away game in the competition.
- Sale have lost their last seven games against Premiership opposition in the Heineken Champions Cup, with their three away games in that run coming by an average margin of 28points.
- Sale have won just two of their last 18 away matches in the Heineken Champions Cup (L16); however, their two wins during that period have both come in their last four away games, Including last season’s Round of 16 tie against Scarlets (57-14).
- Bristol have averaged 14 offloads per game in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, only Stade Toulousain (17.3) have made more; they have also made 175 passes per game, the third highest average.
- Sale boast the best goal kicking success rate of any team to reach the knockout stage of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup (88%) and the second best overall, behind Glasgow Warriors (90%).
- Sale have averaged 7.5 dominant tackles per game in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, more than any other team; Sale and Bristol were two of the four teams to make around-high six dominant tackles last weekend (also Racing 92 and Leicester Tigers).
- Bristol’s Semi Radradra has crossed the try line in each of his last two games in the Heineken Champions Cup, scoring three tries in total, after scoring once in his previous eight games in the competition.
- No player has claimed more lineouts than Sale’s Lood de Jager in the Heineken Champions Cup this season (31, level with Peter O’Mahony); he claimed 11 lineouts last weekend, only two players have taken more lineouts in a game in the competition this season (William Griffiths and Rory Arnold).
Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam: “We’ve just got to make sure we get our tactics right and have a really good prep, and most importantly hope all our fans get there to support us. It could be a big occasion for the club.”
Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson: “We intend to go deep in this competition. There’s a point in this tie, so it’s neither here nor there. We’ll go down there to win the game next week. One point doesn’t make a difference either way.”
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Sale Sharks battled to a 35-29 victory at Bristol Bears on Friday night as they overturned a first-leg deficit to book their place in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals.
Sale saw Aaron Reed sent off but crossed for tries through Lood de Jager, Akker van der Merwe, Thomas Roebuck and Jono Ross at Ashton Gate, with Robert du Preez kicking 15 points to see them win 44-39 on aggregate in the Round of 16 contest.
Bristol got over through Harry Thacker, Luke Morahan (2) and Joe Joyce, but ultimately couldn’t capitalise on their extra man for large spells of the game.
Bristol looked to have scored the game’s first try through hooker Jake Kerr on 19 minutes, but the TMO spotted a knock-on in the build-up. However, Sale scrum-half Faf de Klerk was pulled up for an early tackle and was shown a yellow card, the resulting penalty allowing fly-half Callum Sheedy to kick Bristol into the lead.
What a start to the second half ⚡️
Down to 14? No bother, @SaleSharksRugby are on it tonight 🦈#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/jLWFXiBlIc
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 15, 2022
Sale fly-half Robert du Preez levelled the scores shortly after with a penalty, and the visitors would survive the period with 14 men, ending the 10 minutes in the ascendency.
And seconds after de Klerk returned, Sale scored the game’s opening try as lock de Jager scrambled over at the back of a maul and planted down.
There was a huge setback for Sale as wing Reed was sent off for a high tackle, but they were undeterred, scoring their second try in the final play of the first half as hooker Akker van der Merwe dotted down following a rumbling maul.
Sale would cross again 12 seconds into the second half, centre Manu Tuilagi collected a loose ball from kick off and offloaded to flanker Jean-Luc du Preez, who sent wing Roebuck over in the corner.
A forward pass from Sheedy saw an immediate Bristol response through Charles Piutau chalked off by the TMO, but Sale were reduced to 13 men when prop Nick Schonert was shown a yellow card for another high tackle.
Bristol immediately took advantage as replacement hooker Thacker trundled over at the back of a maul, and they further reduced the deficit as wing Morahan crossed in the corner.
"I'm very proud of those boys, they drank deep from the well tonight" 💪@SaleSharksRugby's DoR Alex Sanderson is delighted with his teams' performance, digging in deep with constant belief 👏#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/gkix3olN1Y
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 15, 2022
Despite Sale being back up to 14, Bristol grabbed their third score on 64 minutes as captain Joyce produced a superb finish from 10 metres out, Sheedy’s third conversion of the game putting the hosts ahead on aggregate.
That lead would be relinquished seconds after the restart as Sale won a turnover penalty and du Preez slotted from in front of the posts, and a further blow for Bristol came a minute later as replacement John Hawkins was yellow-carded for a high tackle.
Sale extended their lead as Robert du Preez slotted his third penalty of the game on 72 minutes, and moments later his cross field kick found its way to captain Ross, who dotted down in the corner.
Bristol set up a grandstand finish when Morahan went over for his second try of the game with two minutes to play, but Sale held on to set up a quarter final against the winner of Racing 92 against Stade Français Paris.
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