|Sale (10) 22|
|Tries: Ross, D du Preez, Neild Cons: R du Preez, MacGinty Pen: R du Preez|
|Bath (24) 27|
|Tries: De Glanville, Dunn, Bayliss Cons: Priestland 3 Pens: Priestland 2|
Bath upset the Premiership form book to record an impressive 27-22 win at Sale.
First-half tries from Tom de Glanville, Tom Dunn and Josh Bayliss ended a run of four successive league defeats and consigned Sale to a first loss in five.
The visitors held a 24-10 half-time lead despite a Jono Ross try for the hosts and Rob du Preez’s penalty.
Dan du Preez brought Sale back into it early in the second half but Cameron Neild’s score in added time came too late to complete a comeback.
A first defeat under Alex Sanderson saw Sale lose ground on leaders Bristol, who narrowly beat Gloucester, as all they could come away with was a losing bonus point.
Bath stay 10th, but open up a bit of breathing space on the bottom two.
They came away from AJ Bell Stadium with victory for the second time in five months, which started inside the first two minutes as full-back De Glanville outpaced four Sale defenders from fly-half Rhys Priestland’s neat pass.
Back row Ross brought Sale back into the game with their first try before Rob du Preez brought the scores level at 10-10 off the tee.
But the last 10 minutes of the first half saw Bath take control as first hooker Dunn crashed over by the posts and then flanker Bayliss snuck over after Zach Mercer had been hauled down inches shy of a fine solo effort.
Sale came out determined from the restart as number eight Dan du Preez took a quick penalty to sneak over, but Priestland’s fifth successful kick of the night took the sting out of Sharks.
They were denied another try for Dan du Preez with 10 minutes to play after referee Christophe Ridley spotted a forward pass from Faf de Klerk’s attempted back-of-the-hand reverse ball.
By the time replacement back row Neild added their third try, it was too late to change the outcome.
Former England Under-20 captain Alex Gray resumed his top-flight rugby union career when he came off Bath’s bench in the last 10 minutes.
Gray, who previously played for Newcastle and London Irish, had taken a break from the sport to try his hand as a tight end in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad.
Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson:
“Players and coaches alike, we’ll take a good look at ourselves and see what perhaps tactically we didn’t get right in that first half.
“Fair play to Bath, tactically they were very smart tonight, they played the conditions and they played field position and scored a couple of very well-taken tries.
“You don’t win games by conceding 27 points, so it’s simple things like ball retention and placement in the ruck.
“If you don’t get the basics right, it doesn’t matter how good your plan is or how talented your players are, you can’t play the game in the right areas or keep the score down to something that’s anywhere near respectable.”
Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper told BBC Radio Bristol:
“It was a solid performance from the lads and I’m extremely proud of them for what they’ve been through over the past couple of weeks.
“They’re things out of their control, but things that do affect them and they came up here today and properly stood up.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but that was our tactic as we expected an ugly night up here. We got that, but we also got the win.
“We defended constantly for about five and a half minutes in the second half and it was like a heavyweight boxing bout towards the end with both sides slugging it out.”
Sale: Hammersley; McGuigan, Doherty, Hill, Roebuck; R du Preez, Cliff; Harrison, Langdon, Oosthuizen, Phillips, JP du Preez, JL du Preez, Ross (capt), D du Preez.
Replacements: Ashman, Morozov, John, Postlethwaite, Neild, de Klerk, MacGinty, James.
Bath: De Glanville; Rokoduguni, Clark, Matavesi, Muir; Priestland, Spencer; Schoeman, Dunn, Judge, McNally (capt), Williams, Bayliss, Reid, Mercer.
Replacements: Walker, Bhatti, Thomas, Richards, Staddon, Chudley, Schoeman, Gray.
Referee: Christophe Ridley.