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Back from the abyss, Bath's revival is gathering steam

Johan van Graan has quietly set about improving every facet of the West Country club and results are starting to come

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Sale boss Alex Sanderson addresses Nick Schonert red card

Sale Sharks boss Alex Sanderson /PA

Alex Sanderson saluted Sale Sharks’ “togetherness and grit” after they overcame an early red card to claim a second successive Gallagher Premiership bonus-point victory.


Sale followed up a five-point maximum against Northampton last weekend by beating Bath 37-20 at the Recreation Ground.

And they achieved it despite prop Nick Schonert being sent off in the ninth minute following a head-high challenge on Bath lock Dave Attwood.

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Sale then went down to 13 players for 10 minutes of the final quarter when replacement prop Ross Harrison was sin-binned, but Bath could find no way through.

“The togetherness and grit, they responded and they didn’t kick stones, which you can do after an event (red card) like that,” Sale rugby director Sanderson said.

“They managed it very well physically, played in the right areas and came alive in attack and showed the endeavour they have shown in the last couple of weeks.

“It is another performance worthy of all the work they have done in pre-season. That is what I am most happy about, that is what I am chuffed about.”


Sanderson had no complaints about Schonert’s dismissal, which came after Sale had already gone ahead through a Tom O’Flaherty try.

“We are in the business of looking after people’s heads at the moment,” Sanderson added.

“I sat in a coaches’ conference three weeks ago talking about mitigating factors. I will look, and if there are mitigating factors, maybe we will get him off a ban.



“But as a tackler, you have got to adjust your body-height.

“It is any part of the body that makes contact with the person’s head. They are the laws, and we have got to apply ourselves to them.

“Sometimes when you have to shift your strategy so early on (because of a red card) it can be as detrimental to the side with the one-man advantage.

“You know you have to work harder when you are a man down, there is nowhere else to go. I’ve been on both sides of the coin.”

The Sharks posted tries by O’Flaherty, hooker Akker van der Merwe, flanker Tom Curry, who made his first appearance since suffering concussion during England’s summer tour of Australia and scored just two minutes after going on, and Jono Ross.

Fly-half Robert du Preez kicked three penalties and four conversions for a 17-point haul, while wing Joe Cokanasiga and full-back Tom de Glanville scored second-half tries for Bath, with Piers Francis converting both touchdowns and booting two penalties.


But, after finishing bottom of the Premiership last season, Bath have started the campaign under new head of rugby Johann van Graan with successive defeats, underlining the huge rebuilding job that he faces.

Van Graan said: “I am very disappointed. It was not the performance I was looking for.

“We lost the physical battle hands-down, and our accuracy was not good enough, but that happens when you are beaten in the collisions.

“They were incredibly powerful in the maul, and we got dominated in contact. It was a good lesson for us.

“We’ve got to be better. There is absolutely no excuse from my side. We had moments, but (it was) not good enough.”


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