Premiership: Bristol 20-20 Sale
|Bristol: (10) 20|
|Tries: Piuatu, Leiua Cons: Sheedy 2 Pens: Sheedy 2|
|Sale: (13) 20|
|Tries: Solomona, De Klerk Cons: McGinty 2 Pens: McGinty, De Klerk|
Sale’s Faf de Klerk and Bristol’s Callum Sheedy both missed late penalties in a thrilling draw.
Denny Solomona’s try and AJ McGinty’s penalty put Sale 10-0 ahead early on.
But Charles Piutau’s score kept Bristol in it with De Klerk and Callum Sheedy then trading penalties as Sale led 13-10 at the break.
De Klerk and Bristol’s Alapati Leiua went over in the second half before Sheedy kicked one penalty and missed two more prior to De Klerk’s miss.
The draw means Sale stay sixth and deals a big blow to their hopes of a play-off place, They are five points adrift of Harlequins, who beat Leicester on Friday, and one behind Northampton who have two games to play.
Bristol, who remain eighth, would have gone up to sixth and into the final Champions Cup qualifying place with a victory.
The game came to life in the final 15 minute as Leiua’s second score was controversially ruled out off after a television replay.
Sale’s Chris Ashton and Sheedy had a coming together deep in the Sale half after a kicked clearance and Sheedy pulled Ashton’s shirt over his head – meaning the former England winger could not defend as Leiua ran through and scored.
With the scores level each side had chances to take the four points, Sheedy first missing a difficult effort with three minutes to go.
And when Sale’s Jono Ross was sin-binned for a no-arm hit into a ruck in the 79th minute Sheedy had another chance, but again the fly-half could not find the target.
Then it was Sale’s turn to have a chance to win it, but South Africa scrum-half De Klerk hit the post with his long-range effort.
Bristol then went up the other end and almost scored a try through Tom Pincus, who was stopped 15 metres out.
Bristol head coach Pat Lam:
“I can’t fault the effort of the guys, but it was frustrating. We wanted to start well.
“The plan was not to give away an intercept and all of a sudden we were 10-0 behind. It was a huge effort to climb our way back into the game.
“The feeling is flat. Two points is better than no points, but we desperately wanted the four.
“It (possible top-six finish) was always going to come down to one or two points, but we just have to take it. We have a couple of weeks now before we play Newcastle.”
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond:
“We had a couple of chances to win it – as did they – but overall it was probably a fair result
“We didn’t get the decisions we deserved at the breakdown and I thought our defence was excellent.
“Our effort was fantastic, but our game-management was poor. There were two times where there was no Bristol player in the 22 and we gave two easy penalties away and it took the pressure off them.
“That’s what we’ve got to learn. The players we’ve recruited for next season will hopefully bring a bit more understanding of that, but in terms of effort, we’ve got that in bucket-loads.”
Bristol: C Piutau; Pincus, O’Conor, S Piutau, Leiua; Sheedy (co-capt), Uren; Thomas, Thacker, Afoa, Holmes, Vui, Luatua (co-capt), Thomas, Haining.
Replacements: Fenton-Wells, Lay, Thiede, Crane, Smith, Randall, Madigan, Luke Daniels.
Sale: Ashton; Solomona, James, James, Reed; MacGinty, de Klerk; Harrison, Webber, John, Beaumont, Phillips, B Curry, T Curry, Ross (capt).
Replacements: Langdon, Morozov, Jones, Postlethwaite, Strauss, Cliff, Redpath, Nott.
Referee: Matthew Carley.
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