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Sale survive stirring Bath comeback after last-gasp penalty miss

By PA

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Orlando Bailey missed the chance to be the hero for Bath as their comeback attempt away to Sale Sharks fell just short in the season opener, going down 20-19 at the AJ Bell Stadium.

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Bailey replaced the returning Danny Cipriani early in the second half as Bath came from 17-0 down to lead, only for Kieran Wilkinson to put Sale back in front before a long-range miss from Bailey in the final play.

The first points of the match did not arrive until the 23rd minute. Rob du Preez scored Sale’s first points of the new season as the South African slotted a penalty after Bath were offside.

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The home fans did not have to wait too long to celebrate their first try of the campaign. Captain Jono Ross decided to kick a penalty to the corner and he won the resulting lineout to set up a rolling maul from which Akker van der Merwe dotted down.

Raffi Quirke, wearing the nine shirt in Faf de Klerk’s absence, set up the second try on 35 minutes. The young scrum-half stepped through the Bath defence before offloading to Byron McGuigan to allow the Scot to cross.

Bath’s first attack of any note was in the 39th minute. Good handling from Beno Obano, Charlie Ewels and Tom De Glanville meant they were held up under the Sale posts. The Sharks full-back Simon Hammersley was adjudged to have cynically killed the ball, meaning he was sent to the sin-bin, and Cipriani kicked the resulting penalty to make the score 17-3 at the break.

The visitors made their extra man count at the beginning of the second half. Cipriani slotted another penalty to make it 17-6 after Sale’s defence did not roll away.

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On the 54th minute, Bath scored their first try. A strong break by Miles Reid allowed substitute Juan Schoeman to dot the ball down beside the posts with Bailey’s conversion bringing the score to 17-13.

After being 17-0 down, Bath brought it back to a one-point game on the 66th minute as Bailey kicked a penalty to make it 17-16.

Sale then thought they had scored a try in the corner, but Du Preez knocked on as he dived for the line and it meant a nervous last 10 minutes for the home crowd.

In the 75th minute, their fears came true as a great break from Sam Underhill led to a penalty in front of the posts which Bailey converted. It meant the visitors led for the first time in the afternoon with just five minutes to go.

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But substitute Wilkinson came to the rescue for Sale as the young fly-half slotted a simple penalty before Bailey’s last-gasp miss from almost halfway.

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Sale survive stirring Bath comeback after last-gasp penalty miss

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