Bath resisted a stunning fightback by Sale to win 16-14 in a thriller at The Rec.


The home side went in front at half-time thanks to two penalties from fly-half Rhys Priestland and went into a 13-0 advantage when centre Jonathan Joseph scored a try that Priestland converted.

But tries from hooker Akker Van Der Merwe and wing Byron McGuigan, both converted by fly-half Robert Du Preez, sent Sale in front before a final Priestland penalty won it for the home team.

Two injury worries for both teams in the opening seconds – with Sale’s World Cup winner Faf De Klerk needing attention for a leg knock and Joseph going down at the same time – threatened to take the shine off a fascinating encounter.

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Thankfully, both got back on their feet as Bath raced out of the blocks quickest.

Errors by the visitors saw Priestland boom over two medium-range penalties to give his side a 6-0 lead, while dashes by England backs duo Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokoduguni needed solid Sale defence.


But Bath could not kick-on and, with scrum-half De Klerk back to his dazzling best at the back of loose and tight situations, Sale had their best attacking period of the match five minutes from the interval.

Wing Denny Solomona lost his footing as he was tackled five metres from the home line, and swift ball movement pushed Bath back to their own posts before another Sale error saw the hosts clear the danger.

Yet Bath sent their home fans roaring after the break when they went over for a scorching touchdown which Priestland converted.


Full-back Tom Homer began the move with a chip and chase into the Sale half and, from the ruck, Joseph was put away, feeding Priestland on a run to the corner before returned the pass to his centre to cross on the left.

But Sale suddenly found their feet again and put their best pressure of the game on their opponents.

And, in a rip-roaring response, they went over twice to take the lead before the hour.

Van Der Merwe was at the side of a ruck which attacked Bath’s line from a throw-in five metres out and slide around to score.

Just before the hour, Sale were back inside the Bath 22 with the ball going through the back division before Du Preez fed McGuigan to go over in the corner.

But, when Sale infringed with nine minutes to go, Priestland stepped up to land his third penalty of the afternoon which proved to be the decider.

Sale pushed hard to get a penalty or within drop goal territory but Bath held out for a thrilling victory.

RugbyPass had the pleasure of interviewing Ireland and Lions star David Wallace.

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