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Sale Sharks will be looking to repeat their 2002 EPCR Challenge Cup quarter-final success against Bristol Bears when they host their Gallagher Premiership rivals in the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 first leg on Saturday.
Their 25-20 victory, which was also played at Sale’s ground, in the 2001/02 season is the sides’ only previous encounter in Europe.
Sale reached the knockout stage for a third time by finishing fifth in Pool A, while Bristol progressed from the pool stage of the competition for only the second time by coming fourth in Pool B.
The contest at the AJ Bell Stadium gets underway at 13:00 UK and Irish time, and is being televised live on BT Sport, C4, Virgin Media and beIN SPORTS.
The @BristolBears kick off their Rof16 clash in just over a week 🤩
Some of their scores this season have been 🔥🔥🔥#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/yJANS1TVLx
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 1, 2022
Other key stats:
- Sale have won 47% of their previous home games in the Heineken Champions Cup (W15 L17). Bristol, meanwhile, have won 44% of their away games in the competition (W4 L5).
- Bristol lost 36-17 away to Union Bordeaux-Bègles in last season’s Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 – their solitary match in the knockout stage of the competition.
- Bristol have alternated between wins and losses in their last eight Heineken Champions Cup away matches. However, their last game away from home in the competition resulted in a 52-21 win against Scarlets, their largest margin of victory in the competition.
- Only Racing 92 (97%) have retained possession from a greater percentage of their own lineouts in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup than Sale (95%). However, Sale’s 82% scrum success rate is the third worst percentage amongst teams still left in the competition.
- Sale have been the most successful team when it comes to goal-kicking in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, slotting 92% of their attempts. Bristol, by comparison, have been successful with 82% of their attempts.
- Bristol have recorded an average carry distance of 8.5 meters in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, a competition-high and over 1.5m more than Sale Sharks have averaged from their carries (6.9 meters/carry).
- Sale’s Lood de Jager has conceded more penalties than any other player in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup (9), while teammate Ben Curry is joint-second for penalties conceded (7). No Bristol player has conceded more than four.
- Only Jack Conan (16.5) and Gregory Alldritt (15) have averaged more carries per game in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup than Bristol’s Semi Radradra (14.5). Radradra also features in the top 10 for meters per game (120.5).
Bristol fly-half Callum Sheedy: “It’s massive for the club. It doesn’t get any bigger – it’s the biggest (club) competition in the world. We’re really excited.”
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A late try from Semi Radradra saw Bristol Bears pick up a 10-9 victory at AJ Bell Stadium in the first leg of their Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 clash with Sale Sharks on Saturday.
In a scrappy game, EPCR European Player of the Year Radradra came off the bench to provide the moment of quality to see Bristol take a one-point advantage into next week’s second leg.
Sale got the first points on the board through a Robert du Preez penalty on four minutes, and the South African fly-half doubled their advantage with another effort the tee five minutes later.
Neither side was able to find their attacking rhythm over the first half an hour, with several opportunities going begging for Bristol amid aggressive Sale defence, though fly-half Callum Sheedy was able to half the deficit with a penalty on 25 minutes.
Finally a try!! 🙌
Who else but @BristolBears' marquee man Semi Radradra, bursting through and making the difference 🤩
The showstopper the game needed 👏#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/iIH4iYXqPO
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 9, 2022
With errors and ill-discipline disrupting the contest, there was little try line action as Sale went into the break 6-3 up, and the theme continued in the early stages of the second half.
Sale opted to kick for the posts from a penalty just inside the Bristol half with an hour played, but du Preez’s effort drifted well wide.
A try would finally come with just under 10 minutes to play, with centre Radradra bursting through midfield and stepping the last man to put Bristol in front, Sheedy’s conversion extending their lead to four points.
That margin was reduced to single point on 77 minutes as du Preez kicked his third penalty of the game, but Bristol held on to take a sender lead into next week’s second leg at Ashton Gate.
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