Sale Sharks scored a try at the death to steal victory away from Bath Rugby in Round 19 of the Gallagher Premiership.
Cam Redpath and Josh Bayliss tries were equalled by JP du Preez and Byron McGuigan in the first half before Rhys Priestland’s boot saw the hosts lead 17-12 heading into half-time.
Simon Hammersley levelled the contest prior to the break and Priestland added another penalty which looked to have sealed a win for Bath, but replacement hooker Curtis Langdon crossed in the dying embers of the game to turn the match on its head.
An early Bath defensive set was rewarded on five minutes. Anthony Watson skipped in-field from the right wing and beat several men to create space out wide for Tom de Glanville to canter forward.
The full-back didn’t break stride and delivered a pinpoint pass off his right hand for Redpath to sprint home against his former club.
Sale responded with an impressive finish of their own. Starting in their own 22, a smart handling move led to JP du Preez ghosting into the corner from a Faf de Klerk pass.
The Bath forwards corrected their battles at scrum time from the week previous to give the hosts a platform to build off and from that, the backs showed some nice touches in attack.
One player who thrived in particular was Max Clark. The centre managed to wriggle free in the tackle on a number of occasions, searching for an offload but halfway through the first period, he evaded several grey shirts to produce some magic.
Spotting a gap, he propelled in behind the Sharks backline and with Watson to his right and Will Chudley to his left, the Welshman delayed and lifted the ball one-handed for back rower Bayliss to power up the middle for his third ever Premiership try – all of which have come against Sale.
As expected, the Sharks rallied and used their physicality to get on the front foot. Bath matched them in the contact on the gainline which was recognised by de Klerk who spread wide to McGuigan to trot into the corner.
Priestland kicked a shot at goal to extend the Blue, Black and White’s slender advantage to five which was wiped out with the clock in the red at the end of the first 40.
A sweeping move down the left week saw Cobus Wiese go out the backdoor to Hammersley and after referee Karl Dickson looked at whether the pass was forward, if the 15 grazed the touchline or dropped the ball in the process of grounding, a try was given to bring the game to 17-17.
The lively duo of de Glanville and Clark combined early in the second half as Bath continued to display signs of attacking intent.
The scrum was proving a real weapon and the line-out was also functioning well with Premiership debutant Tom Doughty extremely accurate with his arrows.
Pressure turned into points when Priestland kicked a simple three and soon after, Sale lost Wiese and Raphael Quirke to yellow cards and had to withstand copious amounts of attacks in the red zone.
Bath couldn’t capitalise on their numerical advantage with the Curry brothers – Tom and Ben – a nuisance at the breakdown, slowly things down.
Home captain Charlie Ewels then saw yellow himself late on and Sharks used the extra man at the line-out to great effect with Langdon flopping over from a fast-moving maul and AJ MacGinty converted to finalise the result.
15. Tom de Glanville, 14. Anthony Watson, 13. Max Clark, 12. Cameron Redpath, 11. Will Muir, 10. Rhys Priestland, 9. Will Chudley; 1. Juan Schoeman, 2. Jacques du Toit, 3. Henry Thomas, 4. Will Spencer, 5. Charlie Ewels ©, 6. Josh Bayliss, 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Zach Mercer
Replacements: 16. Tom Doughty, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. Christian Judge, 19. Josh McNally, 20. Taulupe Faletau, 21. Ben Spencer, 22. Orlando Bailey, 23. Joe Cokanasiga
15. Simon Hammersley, 14. Byron McGuigan, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Marland Yarde, 10. AJ MacGinty, 9. Faf de Klerk; 1. Bevan Rodd, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 4. James Phillips, 5. Jean-Pierre du Preez, 6. Cobus Wiese, 7. Tom Curry ©, 8. Jean-Luc du Preez
Replacements: 16. Curtis Langdon, 17. Valery Morozov, 18. James Harper, 19. Cameron Nield, 20. Ben Curry, 21. Raphael Quirke, 22. Kieran Wilkinson, 23. Connor Doherty
14 May 2021
Referee: Karl Dickson
Half Time score: 17-17
- Tries: Redpath (4), Bayliss (19)
- Conversions: Priestland (5, 20)
- Penalties: Priestland (38, 54)
- Tries: du Preez (8), McGuigan (35), Hammersley (40), Langdon (76)
- Conversions: MacGinty (10, 77)