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Fri 24 Nov 7:45pm Salford Stadium Attendance: 0
Sale Sharks vs Bath Rugby
George Ford kicked a late penalty to preserve Sale Sharks’ 12-month winning Premiership run at home as the leaders overcame fellow higher-flyers Bath.
Three Finn Russell penalties put Bath 9-5 up at the break, with Jonny Hill grabbing a try in response for Sale.
Two penalties from England fly-half Ford in a tense second half sealed the hard-fought come-from-behind triumph at the Salford Community Stadium.
Victory moves Sale five points clear of Bath, who remain second in the table.
England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie made his first start for Sale since arriving in the summer, having come off the bench in his first two matches back after 10 months out.
It was his line-out throw that found former Exeter team-mate and now fellow Shark Hill to power over from close range for the game’s only try.
In a gruelling showdown between the competition’s top two, Bath started strongest and led 6-0 midway through the first half thanks to two Russell penalties.
The Scotland fly-half added a third after Hill went over for Sale at the other end to put the visitors four points up at the break.
An easy kick for Ford early in the second half, following some excellent work from Cowan-Dickie and Ben Curry to force a turnover inside Bath’s 22, reduced the margin to one point.
Simon McIntyre went close to putting Sale ahead for the first time after 59 minutes, but lost the ball over the line as he attempted to burrow over.
It was the best example of Bath’s stubbornness close to the line as they held Sale out, with the visitors also coming up with a number of steals at breakdowns inside their own 22 to frustrate the hosts.
The visitors got to within seven minutes of ending Sale’s winning Premiership run at home, only for Ford to step up and slot a straightforward penalty that extended it to 11 games.
Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson:
“It’s one of a few times this season where we have had to find a way in the dying moments to win. Sometimes it’s been through our defence, and tonight was our set-piece and kicking game.
“They are quite a resourceful bunch, and it shows that we have multiple ways in which to take the game by the scruff of the neck and snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.
“You can easily spiral and start to chase the game, but I thought the players’ resilience to stick to tasks and take it phase by phase and to keep banging on the door is what helped us come away with the win.”
Sale Sharks: Carpenter; Roebuck, R du Preez, Bedlow, Reed; Ford, Warr; Rodd, Cowan-Dickie, Schonert; Wiese, Hill, Van Rhyn, Curry (capt), D du Preez.
Replacements: Creevy, McIntyre, Harper, Beaumont, Bamber, Thomas, James, O’Flaherty.
Bath: De Glanville; McConnochie, Ojomoh, Butt, Gallagher; Russell, Schreuder; Du Toit, Annett, Jonker; McNally, Van Velze, Richards, Cloete, Coetzee.
Replacements: Dunn, Schoeman, Griffin, Lee-Warner, Merigan, Spencer, Bailey, Redpath.
Referee: Karl Dickson.
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