Bath Rugby secured a hard-earned 22-27 victory on the road in Round 9 of the Gallagher Premiership when they faced Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell stadium.
The 80-minutes saw a high-intensity game built on relentless defence and clinical finishing with Bath Rugby crossing the whitewash three times in a devastating first-half.
The first score came in the opening minutes when a Ben Spencer break got Bath on the front foot. The ball was shifted wide to Tom de Glanville who finished superbly in the corner for his second try in as many weeks. Rhys Priestland converted with ease putting Bath into an early lead. [0-7]
The scoreboard was nudged in minutes 19 and 21 when both kickers trade penalties for infringements at the ruck. [3-10]
However, it wasn’t long before Sharks levelled the scores. The hosts piled on the pressure from the restart and got their reward when Jono Ross crossed the try line. Robert Du Preez added the extras making it 10-a-piece. [10-10]
Bath returned the favour with 31 minutes on the clock. A blistering break from starting debutant, Will Muir saw the ball spun out wide to Semesa Rokoduguni. Tom Dunn was ready to receive and the hooker powered over in his familiarly bullish way to secure Bath's second try. Priestland added the conversion putting Bath back in the lead. [10-17]
Just as the clock ticked past 40, Zach Mercer collected a loose kick and accelerated away from the midfield. The no.8 ran a superb line and just as he looked like he was going to score he was pulled down by the Sale defence. However, Josh Bayliss was lying in wait and the back row charged over the line collecting the spoils. Priestland added to his 100% clean record converting the score to end the half. [10-24]
Sharks were quick out of the blocks for the second-half. At 43 minutes Robert du Preez made a break from the half-way and a few powerful drives from their forwards produced a penalty in front of the posts. Sharks' quick-tap put Dan du Preez over but Robert du Preez missed the conversion. [15-24]
Ten minutes later Bath won a penalty and Priestland added to his side’s tally. [15-27]
There was cause to celebrate on the 70-minute mark when former NFL star Alex Gray came on to the field for his first appearance.
Five minutes later the hosts looked like they had scored but the TMO ruled it out due to a forward pass. Shark didn’t give up however and at 80 minutes plus, they secured a losing bonus point.
The final scores closed at 22-27 in minus seven conditions, with final 40 seeing a strong, resolute and disciplined defence from the Blue, Black and White to bring home the win.
15. Tom de Glanville, 14. Semesa Rokoduguni, 13. Max Clark, 12. Josh Matavesi, 11. Will Muir, 10. Rhys Priestland, 9. Ben Spencer, 1. Juan Schoeman, 2. Tom Dunn, 3. Christian Judge, 4. Josh McNally (c), 5. Mike Williams, 6. Josh Bayliss, 7. Miles Reid, 8. Zach Mercer
Replacements: 16. Jack Walker, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. Henry Thomas, 19. Ewan Richards, 20. Ethan Staddon, 21. Will Chudley, 22. Tian Schoeman, 23. Alex Gray
15. Simon Hammersley, 14. Byron McGuigan, 13. Connor Doherty, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Tom Roebuck, 10. Robert Du Preez, 9. Will Cliff, 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Curtis Langdon, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 4. James Phillips, 5. JP Du Preez, 6. Jean-Luc Du Preez, 7. Jono Ross (c), 8. Dan Du Preez
Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Valery Morozov, 18. WillGriff John, 19. Matt Postlethwaite, 20. Cameron Neild, 21. Faf De Klerk, 22. AJ Macginty, 23. Luke James
AJ Bell Stadium
12 February 2021
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Half Time score: 10-24
- Tries: Ross (24), du Preez (43), Neild (82)
- Conversions: du Preez (26), MacGinty (83)
- Penalties: du Preez (19)
- Tries: de Glanville (1), Dunn (30), Bayliss (40)
- Conversions: Priestland (2, 31, 41)
- Penalties: Priestland (21, 56)