Sale Sharks held off a second-half comeback from Bath Rugby to secure a narrow 27-24 victory at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The home side started in the ascendancy, but it was Bath, who were first over the whitewash after 23 minutes through Max Clark, despite being down to 14 men after Shaun Knight was sin-binned six minutes earlier. Matt Banahan and Francois Louw played a pivotal role in the score, with clever offloads giving Bath territorial advantage in the Sale 22. With the platform firmly created, Kahn Fotuali’i used quick ball to find the on-rushing Clark and the outside centre did the rest as he scored his second try in as many games. 3-7
Shortly after, AJ MacGinty added his second penalty of the game before Sale took control of the closing stages of the half with two tries in quick succession. Denny Solomona put his side in front with an excellent solo effort, as the winger evaded the Bath defence and powered his way over the line with seven minutes to go to the half-time whistle. 13-7
With the game into first half stoppage time, Sale scored their second try of the afternoon with another well-worked effort. It was Solomona’s fellow rugby league convert Josh Charnley, who got the move going on the left wing, before flanker Ben Curry forced his way over to extend the Sharks’ lead going into the break.
Half-time score – Sale Sharks 20-10 Bath Rugby
The second half started in similar fashion, with Sale showing their attacking flair in the Bath half. A flowing move from right to left gave Sale numerical advantage and Sam James sent the crucial pass to Charnley, who went in at the corner. 27-10
The momentum started turning in Bath’s favour and with 56 minutes on the clock, the Blue, Black and White found a route back intoin the game. Sale were unable to combat a dominant Bath scrum five metres out and referee Greg Garner had no choice but to award the penalty try. 27-17
Seven minutes later, Bath delivered another seven-point score, with Matt Banahan going using all his strength to score his side's third try of the afternoon and move within three points on the scoreboard. 27-24
A superb breakaway from Bath nearly finished with Banahan making it a double as the Bath stalwart stretched for the line. The call went to the TMO, but agonisingly for the visitors, Banahan was deemed to have lost forward in his attempt to ground the ball.
Despite some flurries into the opposition half, Sale held on until the final whistle, with the remaining two minutes played with 14 men apiece after Louw and Neil Briggs were sent to the sin-bin.
Final score – Sale Sharks 27-24 Bath Rugby
AJ Bell Stadium
6 May 2017
Referee: Greg Garner
Half Time score: 20-10
- Tries: Solomona (32), Curry (40), Charnley (49)
- Conversions: MacGinty (34, 42, 51)
- Penalties: MacGinty (16, 26)
- Tries: Clark (22), Banahan (62)
- Conversions: Priestland (23, 55), Ford (62)
- Penalties: Priestland (35)