MANCHESTER – Sale Sharks staged a sterling late comeback to beat Harlequins 27-19 in the re-arranged Premiership Rugby Cup final on Monday, lifting their first silverware since 2006.
South African brothers Dan du Preez and Robert du Preez concocted a fine finale to deny Harlequins in the final stages of a competition which took more than a year to finish because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Both teams picked strong sides for the final, which was staged behind closed doors at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Sale, who last lifted a trophy when they won the Premiership 14 years ago, started well in a competitive first half.
Curtis Langdon got over the line well and Robert du Preez kicked the hosts 10-0 to the good.
— Sale Sharks🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) September 21, 2020
Harlequins last won the Premiership in 2012 with Chris Robshaw in the side and he had a final chance on Monday to lift silverware again with the club he has served for 15 seasons.
His team mate James Chisholm showed fantastic strength to duck in and score a fine try, with Marcus Smith adding to an earlier penalty with the conversion.
Smith impressed with his kicking variety against Sale when the teams clashed in their return to Premiership Rugby in August, and the fly-half’s unerring boot was again a thorn in their side.
All class from @SaleSharksRugby ❤️
They lift the Premiership Rugby Cup and dedicate it to their beloved kitman Alan Blease who passed away in July. pic.twitter.com/wh4eIIYwM7
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) September 21, 2020
Smith’s 11 first-half points put his side 16-10 up at the break and it was not until the 68th minute that Sale fought their way back into the game with Dan du Preez’s try.
His brother’s conversion and a subsequent penalty put Sale ahead for the first time with five minutes remaining, before scrum-half Faf de Klerk took the game away from Quins with a clever dart to the line.
“The club hasn’t won anything in 10 plus years so this is massive, it’s a big cup for us,” said man of the match Rob du Preez.