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The outstanding flanker was the deserved man of the match on his return to club action as Sale reinvigorated their European Champions Cup challenge at the expense of an ill-disciplined La Rochelle , undeterred even by the moment of madness that meant the visiting hooker Pierre Bourgarit was shown a red card for eye-gouging.
I just felt a hand on my face. I think I can handle myself. The result is that Sale will be right back in contention in pool two if they beat Exeter at home on December 8th, by which time they might even have a surprise bonus squad addition. The Sale director of rugby, Steve Diamond, looking to cover the absence of the injured Josh Beaumont and the Springboks lock Lood de Jager, confirmed he is in talks to sign the brilliant Fiji lock Leone Nakarawa should Racing 92 release the player, currently in dispute with the club after reporting back late from the World Cup.
It all made for robust Sunday lunch Anglo-French entertainment, rosbif with all the trimmings. At their best Sale can make life tough for anyone, particularly with Curry back. In these parts they reckon he has returned from Japan an even better player than when he left, and their other returning World Cup hero, Faf de Klerk , also looks a man perfectly happy to be back on the relentless club treadmill. Relocating from a raucous World Cup trophy-winning tour around South Africa to the grey, overcast northwest in late November is not the easiest of transitions: this was certainly not a day for budgie smugglers, even thermally insulated ones.
De Klerk, though, is the kind of competitor who cheerfully niggles away wherever he is and he looks as chirpy beside the M60 as ever he did in downtown Yokohama. The Bourgarit incident aside, his upbeat mood was only diluted by the decision to disallow what would have been one of the tries of the season, a spectacular metre breakout off turnover ball having apparently culminated with a characteristic Chris Ashton swallow dive between the La Rochelle posts.
In the event it did not matter. La Rochelle, clad in submarine yellow, disappeared under despite the presence of most of their leading names. The loss of Bourgarit ruined any hope they might have had of atoning for their heavy opening round home defeat by Exeter. Only briefly, when Vincent Rattez seized on a loose ball to dart over like a small rodent up a drainpipe, did they exhibit their customary attacking freedom.