Bristol 32-15 Sale: Bears romp home to first win in over two months

Bristol 32-15 Sale: Bears romp home to first Premiership victory in over two months as Alex Sanderson slams referee for failure to reward visitors’ ‘scrum dominance’ as they continued their away day blues at Ashton Gate

  • Bristol got the better of Sale to seal their first Premiership win since November 6
  • The hosts came from behind to extend Sale’s winless run away from home
  • Harry Randall provided much-needed impetus to a kicking-dominated game
  • But Sales did not help themselves with some uncharacteristically poor tackling 

Alex Sanderson slammed referee Wayne Barnes’ failure to reward what he saw as Sale’s scrum dominance as the Sharks continued their away day blues at Ashton Gate.

Barnes – making his 250th Premiership appearance – penalised Sanderson’s side at one second-half set-piece which prompted Sale prop Bevan Rodd to explode with anger.

Rodd had been in a ding-dong battle with his England team-mate Kyle Sinckler and remained in polite and constant dialogue with Barnes throughout the game.

Bristol got the better of Sale to seal their first Premiership win since November 6 on Friday

The prop thought his pack should have been awarded several penalties which did not arrive and when Barnes pointed his finger at him, Rodd finally lost his rag.

It summed up a frustrating evening for a Sale side yet to win on the road this season.

‘There were elements to our game where we didn’t get the rewards I would have expected. The scrum was one in particular,’ said Sharks director of rugby Sanderson.

‘Any loss is a concern. I don’t see home and away as being any point of difference. It might influence the referee and I think it might have tonight, maybe.

‘He (Barnes) is one of the world’s best, but I couldn’t fathom some of those decisions around the scrum. He (Rodd) was right to be angry. I’ll have a look at it and go through the proper channels.’

The hosts came from behind at Ashton Gate to end their two-month-long winless run

Sale have a degree of merit to their scrum argument, but Sanderson also rightly acknowledged his side’s defence was uncharacteristically poor as Bristol sealed a bonus-point success.

It was a first Bears win since November 6 as Pat Lam’s side looked far more like the side which topped the Premiership this time last year rather than the one which has struggled in 2021/22.

Bristol’s backs Harry Randall, Callum Sheedy, Semi Radradra, Ioan Lloyd and Luke Morahan all stood out with the latter scoring twice in the first half following Will Capon’s opener.

Sale lost England flanker Tom Curry to an early yellow card after their hooker Ewan Ashman had opened the scoring. Robert du Preez also went over in an entertaining first period.

The Sales backline was uncharacteristically poor as their dreadful away record continued

Sheedy extended Bristol’s 19-15 half-time lead with two penalties, the second of which was a brilliant strike from wide out.

Rodd then threw his hands up in the air after being penalised by Barnes and was promptly substituted. His departure came either side of Sale having two tries ruled out for knock-ons.

And Sanderson’s misery was compounded after the clock had gone red when fine work by Lloyd allowed replacement Andy Uren to cross for Bristol’s fourth try.

‘We knew everyone was telling us we’ve got to win and we know we’ve got to win,’ said Lam.

‘That’s a big step for us. It gives us a launchpad.’

Alex Sanderson’s Sharks are still yet to claim victory on the road in the Premiership this season

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