Bath end six-game Premiership losing streak with victory at Sale
Bath eased the pressure on director of rugby Stuart Hooper as they ended a run of six successive defeats with a 27-22 win over Sale at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Tries from Tom De Glanville, Tom Dunn and Josh Bayliss as well as 12 points from the boot of Rhys Priestland guided Bath to a victory that saw them pull six points clear of Worcester and Gloucester at the foot of the Gallagher Premiership table.
Captain Jono Ross, Dan Du Preez and Cameron Neild touched down for Sale with Rob Du Preez kicking a conversion and penalty and AJ MacGinty added a late conversion.
Alex Sanderson made 10 changes to the side that beat leaders Bristol as he suffered defeat in his first home game as Sale’s director of rugby.
By contrast, Bath made just two changes, with captain Josh McNally back from injury and Will Muir making his debut.
The visitors had the best possible start as they opened the scoring within two minutes through De Glanville, who broke through the Sale defence with ease in the far-right corner for a try converted by Rhys Priestland.
The Sharks got back into the game midway through the first half, with a close-range penalty from Rob Du Preez.
Moments later, however, Bath restored their seven-point advantage when Priestland slotted a straightforward penalty of his own.
Sale’s first try of the game in the 27th minute took persistence, with Bath’s defence remaining resolute, but the hosts’ patience paid off with Ross touching down and Rob Du Preez converting to level the scores.
The sides were not equal for long, however, as Bath hit back and following an opening on the right-hand side, hooker Dunn crashed over under the posts to put the visitors back in front.
Two minutes before the end of the half, Sale won a line-out in a threatening position and a scrum soon followed but the visitors won it to prevent the Sharks closing the gap before the break.
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There was still time for a further twist before half time as Sale lost the ball in a crucial position, enabling Bayliss to break away and score a try converted by Priestland to give the visitors a 24-10 lead at the interval.
The hosts came straight out of the blocks in the second half, which was just four minutes old when they reduced the deficit.
Following a sequence of impressive off-loads, the hosts earned a penalty just in front of the line and Dan Du Preez took the ball over the line – his brother Rob was unsuccessful with the conversion attempt.
In the 57th minute, Bath were awarded a penalty due to a Sale player being in an offside position and it was duly converted by Priestland to extend the visitors’ advantage to 12 points.
The Sharks thought they’d reduced the deficit in the 76th minute when Dan Du Preez crossed but the TMO overturned the decision for a forward pass in the build-up.
Sale did manage to pick up a losing bonus point with the last action of the game courtesy of a converted try from replacement Neild.
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