A review of Sunday's action in the Heineken Champions Cup as Sale battled past La Rochelle.
- Sale 25-15 La Rochelle
- Montpellier 30-27 Gloucester
World Cup winner Faf De Klerk made a triumphant return to club rugby as Sale Sharks fought their way to a scrappy 25-15 win over La Rochelle in the Heineken Champions Cup at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Former England winger Chris Ashton scored a competition record-extending 40th try but the Premiership club made hard work of securing their first win of this year's tournament against undisciplined opponents who had one man sent off and two others sin-binned.
France hooker Pierre Bourgarit was handed a red card three minutes before half-time for appearing to eye gouge returning England flanker Tom Curry, while lock Remi Leroux and prop Dany Priso saw yellow for technical infringements.
The returns of De Klerk and Curry, who was named man of the match, were among nine changes to the team that took a bonus point from a 13-7 defeat at Glasgow and there was a lack of cohesion at times.
The result effectively puts La Rochelle out of contention following a 31-12 home defeat by Exeter but sets up the Sharks for their home tie against the unbeaten Chiefs in a fortnight's time.
Gloucester fell just short of what would have been a memorable win to lose 30-27 to 14-man Montpellier in a thrilling Heineken Champions Cup clash at Altrad Stadium.
The Cherry and Whites were beaten at home by Toulouse in round one and despite an entertaining performance and tries from Callum Braley, Matt Banahan and Joe Simpson, failed to make the most of a second-half red card for Montpellier lock Jacques du Plessis.
The French team's efforts came from Jan Serfontein, Caleb Timu and Nemani Nadolo, while Benoit Paillaugue kicked 15 points as they defied the loss of Du Plessis to bounce back from a loss to Connacht.
Gloucester took home a losing bonus point, but it could have been so much more.
The visitors were forced into a late change with Banahan replacing Jason Woodward at full-back due to a groin injury, in what was a second string Cherry and White outfit.