Sale secure sixth consecutive Premiership victory against Bath with late try

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Sale Sharks' Curtis Langdon scores their side's fourth try of the game during the Gallagher Premiership match at the Recreation Ground, Bath. - PA
Sale Sharks' Curtis Langdon scores their side's fourth try of the game during the Gallagher Premiership match at the Recreation Ground, Bath. - PA

Bath 20 Sale Sharks 24

Thanks to epic defensive work led by stand-in captain Tom Curry, Sale sealed their sixth-consecutive Premiership win, taking them ever closer to a play-off spot and jumping into second place after choking a lively Bath side in the second half.

Sale had to weather three yellow cards but hung on for the win. Their director of rugby, Alex Sanderson, credited the work of Curry and twin Ben, who put in an immense shift as a replacement.

“Captain fantastic, how good was Tommy Curry? He was epic again. And it was brilliant to see his brother out there again. Ben didn’t look off the pace. He is only going to get better,” said Sanderson.

In front of a watching Eddie Jones, Sale were fired up as they have a home play-off place in their sights. So, a feisty contest was expected – and delivered.

Fans may be returning to the Premiership on Monday, just 15 miles from the Rec in Bristol, but despite this fixture being played behind closed doors, a number of locals had gathered at the edges of the ground and were peering out from windows of buildings overlooking the stadium. They were treated to the sort of spectacle that has defined Bath’s last few home Premiership games – lots of tries to start with and a sticky end.

Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper believed his side had lost due to being unable to convert when Sale were down to 13 men in the second half. “I am frustrated but not as much as the lads,” he said. “We should have converted when we were down to 13. Ultimately, that lost us the game. I can’t take anything away from the application of the lads, the way they turned themselves around was outstanding.”

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Similar to last Saturday’s game in which Bath were eventual losers to table toppers Bristol, Sale looked the more physically imposing in the opening passages. Anthony Watson made a beautiful looping run to set up Scotland international Cameron Redpath in the corner.

Sale’s South African-born lock Jean-Pierre du Preez galloped over the line soon after. Bath, however, were back on the attack and a wonderful one-handed pass from centre Max Clark found back row Josh Bayliss running a beautiful line through scattered Sale defenders.

Sale missed a golden try-scoring opportunity when hooker Akker van der Merwe did not release in time but moments later wing Byron McGuigan was able to capitalise on the territory made for the visitors. A penalty minutes later from Rhys Priestland put Bath back five points ahead but Sale had the final say in the half with full-back Simon Hammersley going over.

The first 15 minutes of the second half were not played at the same frantic pace and the flow of play was interrupted as Bath made a raft of changes, including the introduction of Ben Spencer, whose clarity had seemed somewhat missing.

A yellow card for Cobus Wiese on 57 minutes should have given the hosts breathing space and Bath nudged back ahead thanks to the boot of Priestland.

Replacement scrum-half Raffi Quirke was shown yellow and Sale were down to 13 men, but brilliant defensive work from the Curry twins denied Bath. “When Tom came back from England, he felt it was more about the people around him as well, but I said, ‘Tom, focus on your game, lead by example’, and obviously we had a couple of injuries like captain Jono Ross,” said Sanderson.

“Tom was the natural choice because of his ability to talk sense when it is needed. I heard him a few times tonight and he kept talking about discipline.”

But as Wiese and Quirke returned to the field the question was would Sale be jaded after defending with 13 men? No, they seemed to be gaining momentum and launched an attack in the Bath 22 as the hosts were a man down for the closing minutes after captain Charlie Ewels was sent to the bin for an upright tackle.

The penalty led to Sale scoring via replacement hooker Curtis Langdon with just over two minutes left. AJ MacGinty nailed a tricky conversion to give his side a four-point lead. Bath had a look of desperation about them as they tried to claw the game back but were lacking in composure. They had a last-ditch chance when they were awarded a penalty as McGuigan was sent to the sin-bin for a trip, but Sale held tight.

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