A minutes silence ahead of Remembrance Sunday preceded the game at the AJ Bell Stadium. Bath had an excellent record in the competition and Sale Sharks were hoping to go one better than last season when they lost in the final 14-32 to Harlequins.
Sharks were soon on the attack and earned a penalty with only two minutes on the clock which Fly Half Joe Ford slotted home.
Both teams took time to find their feet but it was Sale on 14 minutes who put the first flowing move together across the field before Tom Brady was forced into touch.
On 22 minutes Bath took the lead when rolling maul gathered pace following a line out and Prop Anthony Perenise was credited with the try. Tom Heathcote converted and after dominating large parts of the play Sale found themselves 3-7 down
Sale hit back with a try of their own thanks to a rolling maul which Michael Paterson touched down under a pile of bodies. Ford converted and Sale led 10-7 after 30 minutes.
Heathcote levelled the scores at 10-10 on 38 minutes with a short range penalty but more worrying for Sale was that Captain Dan Braid was summoned by the referee to have a word with his players about their discipline.
Half Time Sale Sharks 10 Bath 10
The second half started in pouring rain and both sides failed to find any composure in the early exchanges. Bath had the chance to go ahead on 50 minutes but Heathcote's penalty attempt was wide.
Sale made five substitutions at once on 55 minutes in an effort to freshen up their performance and Nick MacLeod was among the replacements having recovered from his elbow injury sustained against Wasps in September.
Heathcote made amends on 56 minutes with a well taken drop goal and Bath led 10-13.
Matt Banahan put the visitors further ahead on 65 minutes when he was on the end of a Heathcote chip through. Banahan collected the ball and grounded it well. Heathcote converted and Bath led 10-20. Worse followed as Paterson was sin binned by the referee and Sale would have to chase the game a man down.
Nick Macleod reduced the arrears on 70 minutes with a long range penalty to set up a grandstand finish. 13-20
Paterson returned with 5 minutes remaining as Sharks tried desperately to salvage the game.
On 78 minutes when Preston born youngster Mike Haley pounced on a rebound and touched down. Macleod converted and with 90 seconds left it was 20-20.
The long was on zero and Bath won a penalty, Heathcote missed the kick and play continued, Sharks the lost the ball in contact in their own 22 and David Attwood collected the ball and sprinted in for a try. Heathcote converted to give a final score
Mike Haley, Tom Arscott (Off 44 mins), Andy Forsyth, Mark Jennings (Off 72mins), Tom Brady, Joe Ford (Off 53mins), Will Cliff (Off 53mins), Ross Harrison (Off 53mins), Marc Jones (Off 53mins), Tony Buckley (Off 53mins), Andrei Ostrikov, Tom Holmes, Jonathan Mills, Dan Braid, Michael Paterson (Sin binned 64mins)
Replacements: Tommy Taylor (On for Harrison 53mins), Eifion Lewis Roberts (On for Harrison 53mins), Henry Thomas (On for Buckley 53mins), Kirill Kulemin, Mark Easter (On for Jennings 72mins), Dwayne Peel (On for Cliff 53mins), Nick Macleod (On for Ford 53mins), Rob Miller (On for Arscott 44 mins)
Scoring sequence (Sale first): 3-0, 3-5, 3-7, 8-7, 10-7, 10-10 (Half Time), 10-13, 10-18, 10-20, 13-20, 18-20, 20-20, 20-25, 20-27
FT Sale Sharks 20 Bath Rugby 27.
|Sale Sharks Score Card|
|Bath Rugby Score Card|