Sale Sharks recorded an amazing victory at the Rec against high flying Bath and moved closer to a top four place and a place in the new elite European Competition next season.
After a journey that took over nine hours on Thursday, Sale Sharks thought things had to improve but sadly both Mark Cueto (calf) and Dan Braid (dead leg) were injured in the warm up and had to be replaced by Rob Miller (Cueto) and Jon Mills (Braid). The last minute reshuffle saw Mills move into Lock and Paterson to Flanker. Travelling reserves Tony Buckley and Andy Forsyth were added to the bench.
Despite the last minute re-shuffle Sharks looked promising in the opening minutes and won the first penalty when Jones was taken out illegally. Danny Cipriani kicked the penalty (3-0). Bath levelled the score on eleven minutes with a George Ford penalty awarded for offside. (3-3)
Marc Jones was tackled around the eyebrows by Garvey on 18 minutes and Cipriani took the penalty kick to put Sharks back into the lead (6-3). Marc Jones was obviously a marked man as the Bath defenders were having to try and stop him at all costs.
The Sharks front row of Lewis- Roberts, Jones and Cobilas were dominant and causing the Bath pack all sorts of problems and on 23 minutes they destroyed the Bath scrum and gave Cipriani his third penalty of the night (9-3).
On 29 minutes Gaskell was harshly adjudged to have tackled Abendanon high but the Bath penalty failed to find touch and Sharks recovered.
Bath started to put a few useful phases together and pegged Sharks back in their own 22. Bath gained a penalty on 32 minutes for a deliberate knock on and George Ford made no mistake to reduce the Sharks lead to (9-6).
On the stroke of half time Ford had the chance to level but his penalty, awarded after Seymour was penalised, was wide. The whistle blew and Sharks could be happy with their first 40 minutes work.
Half Time Bath Rugby 6 Sale Sharks 9
Bath started the second half looking to penetrate the Sharks defence. In Sharks previous two games neither Northampton or Saracens managed to score a try and the Sharks players were keen to keep up their record. Sharks made a break of their own through Dwayne Peel but his pass to James Gaskell was knocked on and Bath breathed a sigh of relief.
On 46 minutes James was penalised for Bath and Cipriani nailed his fourth kick to give Sharks a six point cushion (12-6). Bath supporters joined their heroes in their frustrations at not being able to break the Sharks defence down. Mike Forshaw was picking up the credit from the assembled media for his work with the Sharks since he joined the club in the summer.
Ford had the chance to close the gap on 55 minutes after Leota was penalised for holding on to the ball in the tackle but his kick was wide. Bath attempted to up the tempo but Sharks held firm. The home side were introducing their replacements too in an effort to reduce the arrears. Twice the home side won penalties and kicked to the corner for the lineout, but mainly thanks to the Bath hookers inaccurate throwing in, Sharks line held firm. How long could the players defend like this? They had to defend for almost the whole second half against Northampton and again here at The Rec.
Former Sharks, Carl Fearns was putting himself about a bit and making his presence felt up front. Sale were camped on their own line and with the scrum under pressure Ross Harrison and Henry Thomas were introduced as replacements.
Houston broke from the back of the scrum and looked to have grounded the ball over the line. Referee Richards went to the TMO for a second opinion. NO TRY was the decision but Sharks had to endure another 5 metre scrum.
The Rec pitch was in danger of wearing out in the corner as play had been there for over 14 minutes and Sharks knew that if they were penalised again it could be a penalty try. Instead it was a yellow card for Henry Thomas who incredibly is Bath bound at the end of the season! Full Back Tom Arscott was the sacrificial lamb to leave the field to cover Cobilas returning.
After the scrum finally took place correctly Sharks cleared the danger. Steve Diamond brought on several substitutes for the last ten minutes. On 75 minutes referee Richards went to the TMO asking if there was any reason he could award a try to Batty. The TMO obviously had a worms eye view as numerous replays showed it inconclusive. More drama though as Ford missed his third consecutive kick (12-11).
Cobilas had to leave the field after a scrum collapsed and Tony Buckley was brought on. Ford had a drop goal attempt charged down by Nick Macleod and then with the final kick off the game Ford missed again with his drop kick attempt. The crowd fell silent but Sharks had done an incredible Premiership double over Bath.
Tom Arscott (off 68-78mins), Tom Brady, Jonny Leota, Sammy Tuitupou, Rob Miller, Danny Cipriani, Dwayne Peel, Eifion Lewis Roberts (off 64mins), Marc Jones, Vadim Cobilas (off 64-66mins on for Arscott 68-77mins off 78mins), Andrei Ostrikov, Jonathan Mills, Michael Paterson, David Seymour, James Gaskell
Replacements Aston Croall, Ross Harrison (on for Roberts 64mins), Henry Thomas (on for Cobilas 64-66mins), Tony Buckley (on for Cobilas 77-78mins), Mark Easter (on for Ostrikov 71mins), Will Cliff (on for Peel 71mins), Nick Macleod (on for Cipriani 71mins), Andy Forsyth
Scoring Sequence (Bath first): 0-3, 3-3, 3-6, 3-9, 6-9 (Half Time) 6-12, 11-12
SALE SHARKS NEXT HOME GAME IS AGAINST NORTHAMPTON IN THE AMLIN CHALLENGE CUP QUARTER FINAL AT THE AJ BELL STADIUM NEXT THURSDAY 3RD APRIL KICK OFF 8PM. Tickets are available for the game by phoning 08444-994-994. If you require specific booking information or help, please email email@example.com with your name and phone number and we will call you back.
|Bath Rugby Score Card|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|