A last minute Zach Mercer try converted by James Wilson gave Bath Rugby a dramatic 33-32 victory against Sale Sharks at the Rec.
Bath were first off the mark, with Wilson marking his first appearance at fly-half for the Club by slotting two early penalties. 6-0
Sale hit back seven minutes later with the opening try of the afternoon. A break from Will Addison set the foundations for the attack after an impressive break into the Bath 22. It was then left to Denny Solomona, who jinked his way past the Bath defence to score under posts. De Klerk added the extras to put the visitors in the lead. 6-7
It wasn’t long before Sale had their second try on the board, with Marland Yarde the next to cross the whitewash. A well-worked move from the line-out saw De Klerk release the ball out wide, which eventually found Yarde, who touched down in the corner. 6-12
Bath reduced the deficit mid-way into the first half, with Wilson maintaining his 100% record from the boot to take the home side to within three points. 9-12
Five minutes before the interval, Zach Mercer scored Bath’s opening try of the game. With Bath piling on the pressure in the Sale 22, it was Taulupe Faletau who unlocked the defence on his return to action. The number eight stepped into the line and released his fellow back rower Mercer through the gap to score. 16-15
There was just enough time for De Klerk to get back in on the act with another three points, as the teams went into the interval closely-poised at 16-18.
Half-time – Bath Rugby 16-18 Sale Sharks
The prolific De Klerk notched another penalty in the four minutes into the second-half, before Bath went over the try line to move back in front. Matt Garvey and Will Hurrell both went close before the ball was recycled to Josh Bayliss, who scored his first Aviva Premiership try. 23-21
De Klerk and Wilson then exchanged penalties, before the former edged his side back in front courtesy of another three points with 60 minutes on the clock. 26-27
The scrum-half was once again central to Sale’s third try, as the visitors increased their advantage at the Rec. De Klerk peeled off the scrum in his own half, before releasing Solomona on the wing. The England international chased his own chip over the top and gathered to score his second of the game. 26-32
The drama wasn’t over, as Bath went for one final attack in the Sale 22 with three minutes to play. The Blue, Black and White went through over 20 phases before Ben Tapuai offloaded to Mercer, who dummied his way inside the sale defence to add a crucial try. Wilson showed his composure to take his tally to 18 points and secure a dramatic victory for Bath.
Full-time – Bath Rugby 33-32 Sale Sharks