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'A ridiculously talented rugby player... as good as anything in world rugby'

By PA
(Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Bath head coach Neal Hatley paid tribute to England flanker Sam Underhill for a stirring two-try performance in their 24-24 draw with Sale just 48 hours after returning from a family wedding in the United States.

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Underhill scored twice in a purple patch of six minutes during the first half and might have had a hat-trick just after half-time.

Hatley said: “He was out in Miami for his sister’s wedding on Monday after playing in the Test against France. It had been called off two or three times because of Covid so it was the right thing for him to do.

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“It was important for him to spend time with his family.”

Hatley added: “If he scored in the top corner here five or seven minutes into the second half it could have been 28-7, it would have been a long way back for them.

“Sam on his day is as good as anything in world rugby. He hasn’t played a lot of rugby this season. He’s had a few bumps, a little bit of concussion, so he’s coming back into it.

“He’s a ridiculously talented rugby player and to show power five or six metres out for his two tries was phenomenal and he showed great enthusiasm to scramble back and attack the ball.”

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Bath remain bottom of the table on points difference below Newcastle despite the draw, which followed two victories in the Premiership.

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A frustrated Hatley said: “We were good value for the 21-7 lead at half-time. We were really aggressive, going for the corner even with a good wind, some good decisions from Ben Spencer and Danny Cipriani to keep them under the pump.

“Credit to Sale, they are a good side – a big side. It’s a hell of a pack and they squeezed us in that middle third of the game for 20-22 minutes when they got back into the game.

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“But I’m so pleased with our forward pack, especially with the players we’re missing. I couldn’t be more proud of the lads for the effort they put in.”

Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson said: “Was a draw the fair result? It probably was, given how we performed in the first half. They looked dangerous in attack, put their bodies on the line. We looked a bit leaky and uncharacteristically soft.

“There was a general malaise and we lacked urgency in the first half. We addressed that at half-time and therein lies the difference. I’m really proud of that second half. It’s good to get three points but there’s two gone begging.”

Sanderson was attaching no blame to Faf De Klerk for missing a last-gasp penalty that would have wrested back victory after Danny Cipriani’s kick had drawn Bath level with three minutes to go.

He said: “You can go back to the kick, can’t you, but it was all about the thousands of incidents that happened before that. It shouldn’t really come down to the kick.

“Fair game to Bath. They’ve got a bit of form back in the last seven or eight weeks.

“With Ed Griffiths coming in (as chairman), some of their injured players coming back and some of their better players, they look sharp and dangerous. Put a bit of weight into their front five and you’ve got a real team there.”

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