Bath Rugby made it three out of three in the Premiership this year with a 7-19 victory over Sale Sharks at Edgeley Park.
Olly Barkley opened the scoring for Bath early on, with a well struck penalty within the first two minutes of the game. Sale had the chance to respond moments later, but fly-half Charlie Hodgson's normally unfailing boot sent the ball wide of the posts to the shock of the Edgeley Park faithful. 0-3
A forward driven match ensued, with the Bath pack dominating in the scrum for the majority of the match. They also caused many a problem for Sale in the lineout, disrupting and stealing ball time after time.
Half way through the second half, Barkley was given the opportunity to double the lead, after Sale were penalised for holding on. Finding his range well, Barkley sent the ball clean through the posts from about 40 metres out. 0-6
Despite the conditions, both sides were playing strong attacking rugby, with Sale causing Bath to defend for large periods. However, Bath's kicking game stood the test, clearing the ball out of the danger zone.
With six minutes left of the first half, Bath again extended the lead, scoring the first try of the game. More strong pressure at the scrum secured possession, and when Sale infringed, another scrum was called about 10m from the try line. A huge shove from Bath sent Sale reeling backwards, and Simon Taylor controlled the ball at the base just enough for Nick Abendanon to see a gap, pick the ball up and wiggle through to cross the line, under pressure from the Sale defence. Barkley converted, taking the score to 0-13.
The home side were far from out of the match however, and pressed hard from the re-start. They attacked through the centre, pushing Bath back, and eventually winger Ben Cohen cut a sharp diagonal line from inside to touch down in the corner. The TMO was called for, and after a very lengthy wait, it was ruled that Cohen just managed to touch the ball down before being bundled into touch. Hodgson converted, to bring Sale back to within six points, taking the score to 7-13, where it stayed until half time.
Coming out for the second half, Sale once again had Bath defending for large periods, with Hodgson kicking well to get the Sharks into attacking positions. However, the defence stood strong, and the pressure was relieved time after time.
Barkley's fine kicking form continued, with another long range penalty being sent cleanly through the posts. The Sharks had possession and opting to kick, found Abendanon deep in the 22. Abendanon ran the ball, carrying well, into the Sale half. The whistle blew for on offside offence, and Barkley stepped up to extend the gap between the two sides to nine points with just 13 minutes left of the game. 7-16
Hodgson had the chance to claw back some points soon after, with a long range penalty shot, but his effort came off the posts, summing up the home sides fortunes for the evening.
The clock ticked on, and in the last minute of the game, a surging 15m drive from the dominant Bath pack took the visitors deep into the Sale half, and as they halted the drive illegally, Barkley stepped up to secure the victory with another well struck penalty with the last kick of the game. Final score 7-19.