Sale edge Bath in low-scoring affair
MATCH REPORT: Sale Sharks edged out Bath in a low scoring game at the AJ Bell Stadium as the boot of AJ MacGinty proved enough to see the home side through 6-3.
Both Sale and Bath were desperate for a win and were boosted by the return of an England international each; Sale with Chris Ashton and Bath with Anthony Watson.
With just three minutes on the clock, Freddie Burns tried an ambitious drop goal which barely left the floor.
The first points of the game were scored when Sale infringed off the line out, Burns making up for his earlier missed drop goal with a penalty from 40 yards.
An innovative box kick from Faf De Klerk then looked to have put Ashton through, only for the ball to run out of play on the Bath five metre line.
The Bath pack looked dominant as Sale collapsed another maul outside the 22, only for Burns to fire wide of the posts.
Bath won another penalty, this time from the line out, but Burns failed to convert for the second time.
Despite not creating any real chances of note, Sale found themselves level on the half an hour mark as MacGinty fired over a straight forward penalty.
Good work from Tom Curry at the ruck forced another Sale penalty, but this time it was MacGinty’s turn to fire wide on the stroke of half time.
The first points of the second half were scored with 15 minutes remaining, the hosts in front for the first time thanks to the boot of MacGinty.
Moments later Rhys Priestland had the chance to level proceedings but again his kick was wayward.
Luke James put the visitors on the back foot with a great kick, Priestland then knocking on under little pressure in his own 22.
Denny Solomona looked to be clear after an interception only for Joe Cockanasiga to recover well, but from the following ruck Zach Mercer was sent to the bin.
Bath defended well from the resulting penalty to win the ball back, but the Sale defence withstood the late onslaught to earn the win.
For Sale Sharks:
Pens: MacGinty 2
Yellow card: Zach Mercer (Bath, 72)
Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 James O’Connor, 11 Chris Ashton, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf De Klerk, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Ben Curry, 5 James Phillips, 4 Josh Beaumont, 3 Will-Griff John,2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Valery Morozov, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Arron Reed.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano.
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Levi Douglas, 20 Elliott Stooke, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace & Simon McConnell.
TMO: Stuart Terheege.