4 years ago
18 September 2009, 9:33am
Two tries from Matt Carraro helped Bath Rugby to an impressive win at Edgeley Park as they recorded their first victory of the new Guinness Premiership season in style.
Beaten by Gloucester and Wasps in their opening two matches, Bath bounced back with a convincing three-tries-to-nil victory over Sale Sharks.
Australian centre Carraro went over either side of half-time - with a Matt Banahan try sandwiched in between - as Steve Meehan's side moved off the bottom of the table with a fully deserved victory.
Nicky Little, making his first Premiership start for the club, kicked 10 points as Bath claimed their first league victory at Edgeley Park for six years to move up to eighth in the table.
They were up against it in the closing stages, though, surviving for the final few minutes with 13 men after both Banahan and Andy Beattie were yellow-carded.
Yet despite their numerical disadvantage, Bath's defence held firm under severe pressure to deny Sale a late try, which would have given them a conversion to seal a losing bonus point.
Bath were far more composed across the field than they had been in their opening two Premiership matches - and got their tactics spot-on against a side who are notoriously difficult to beat at home.
Head coach Meehan said: "It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty satisfying. I thought the tries were well worked, with some good skills and guys running hard.
"We finished off, whereas in the previous couple of weeks we've been having some difficulties there. Where the guys have really applied themselves at training, we saw the end result, so it's been a worthwhile week.
"We did feel we had been building through this. The result against Gloucester came out of the blue, and we let ourselves down in two or three areas against Wasps, but we felt we were improving the whole time.
"We actually arrived quite confident, which is probably a strange thing to say, but that was the feeling - and the guys applied themselves well."
Bath fell behind after five minutes when Lee Thomas landed a penalty after the visitors had strayed offside, only for Little to level the score three minutes later with a penalty of his own after home hooker Marc Jones was penalised for not releasing the ball in contact.
Thomas landed a penalty for a 6-3 lead when Bath were again penalised in defence - but the fly-half fell short with an audacious 60-metre effort soon after.
Jack Cuthbert then failed with a long-range penalty attempt for Bath - and Sale soon extended their lead with a 45-metre effort from Thomas.
But the fightback began shortly after the half-hour mark, Little halving the deficit with a penalty after Luke Abraham caught Michael Claassens as the Bath skipper prepared to pass from a ruck.
And Little was then the provider, setting up Carraro for the first try of the night - and his first in the Premiership.
Carraro still had a lot of work to do when he gathered Little's pass 35 metres from the line, but he slipped past Ben Cohen's tackle and raced away to score.
Little converted to give Bath a 13-9 lead - which they carried into half-time after Thomas failed with another long-range effort shortly before the interval.
Bath came out firing after the restart, adding a second try through Banahan five minutes into the second period.
They worked through the phases with patience and accuracy, before Claassens whipped the ball away from a ruck and Little released Banahan, who powered over from close range.
Little missed the routine conversion - but it hardly mattered as Bath powered into a 25-9 lead with a wonderful converted try soon after.
Cuthbert found touch with a big kick, Bath turned Sale over following the line-out, and Shontayne Hape's brilliant offload sent Carraro away to score his second of the night and Bath's third.
Another Thomas penalty - awarded following a high tackle by Claassens - brought Sale back to within 13 points at 25-12.
But they could not add any further points, as Bath's defence held firm despite having Banahan yellow-carded for a late tackle on Mark Cueto, and Beattie sent to the sin-bin for killing the ball.
Sale Sharks: N Macleod; M Cueto, M Tait, C Bell (J Kennedy 73), B Cohen (O Ripol 57); L Thomas, R Wigglesworth; A Sheridan, M Jones, E Roberts (J Forster 73), J Gaskell, D Schofield (capt), L Abraham (N Briggs 41), D Seymour, C Jones. Reps not used: G Kerr, B Cockbain, D Tait, W Cliff.
Scorers: Pens - Thomas (4).
Bath: J Cuthbert; J Maddock, M Carraro, S Hape, M Banahan; N Little (R Davis 79), M Claassens (capt); D Barnes (D Flatman 80), L Mears, D Bell (A Jarvis 72), P Short (S Hooper 67), D Grewcock, J Fa'amatuainu (A Beattie 76), J Salvi, B Skirving. Reps not used: P Dixon, S Bemand, M Stephenson.
Scorers: Tries - Carraro (2), Banahan. Cons - Little (2). Pens - Little (2).
Sin-binned: Banahan (74, late tackle), Beattie (78, killing the ball).
Ref: D Pearson. Att: 7,028.
Man of the Match - Matt Carraro
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