Bath Rugby beat Sale Sharks 30-3 under the floodlights at the Recreation Ground tonight to make it five Aviva Premiership wins from six.
Bath opened the scoring almost immediately, courtesy of Matt Banahan – who scored his 50th Aviva Premiership try for Bath in the process – the first Bath player to achieve the feat.
After Jonathan Joseph broke through a tackle whilst arcing his run towards the right flank, the ball was offloaded to Banahan, who - although chopped down five metres from the try line – crawled and stretched to get the ball over the whitewash. George Ford added the extras from a tight angle. 7-0.
In front of the record 13,918 crowd at the Rec, both sides looked up for a physical battle, with big hits going in left, right and centre.
After some bruising midfield play, Bath repelled a number of Sharks phases before Will Addison knocked over a penalty from under the posts. 7-3.
Bath soaked up yet more pressure at the back as Sale continued to ask questions of the home forwards - and then launched a blistering counter of their own when they turned over possession.
Bath added to their lead through the boot of Ford with three minutes of the half remaining after Sale were punished for an infringement in the scrum.
The hosts spread the ball with pace and intent throughout the first half, and found themselves going in at the break 10-3 up.
Half Time – Bath Rugby 10 – Sale Sharks 3
Joseph, as is normally the case in Bath colours, looked more than happy to run with the ball in his hands and put Bath on the front foot straight from the start of the second-half with a trademark lung-busting run.
Ford continued to build points for the home side shortly after the restart, bumping the score up by three with another metronomic penalty after another scrum infringement from the visitors.
Addison was given the ideal chance to reduce the deficit with a penalty of his own, but he could not keep his effort on target and the score remained 13-3.
Then came the flashpoint of the half – Halani Aulika was adjudged to have tackled Attwood without using his arms, giving Ford another shot at goal. No further action was taken by referee Tom Foley, and Bath’s lead was extended to 13.
Bath put clear daylight between the sides minutes later, and it was nothing more than scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i deserved. After the ball came loose ten metres inside the Sale half, Fotuali’i pounced on it and sprinted away, unopposed, beneath the posts to hammer home his side’s advantage. Ford easily kicked the extras, giving his side a 20-point lead.
Kane Palma-Newport was the next to get in on the act, claiming a lineout that Sale had initially won, before jinking to the right and bundling over the line for Bath’s third score of the night. Ford helped himself to yet more points after nailing the difficult conversion.
With Bath then finding themselves defending their try line for the last five minutes of the game, there was just enough time for one last dramatic act. Johnny Leota unceremoniously upended Aled Brew, and was sent to the sinbin for his troubles.
Bath closed the game out to record a comprehensive victory.
Final Score – Bath Rugby 30 - Sale Sharks 3