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Match reaction: Bath Rugby 12 Sale Sharks 3

Mike Ford was a relieved figure at the final whistle after seeing Bath end a disastrous sequence of results in the Aviva Premiership to move back up into second position and keep their play-off charge firmly alive.

Ford’s men had experienced a poor spell in the Aviva Premiership since Christmas, collecting ten points in the league from their last six games – only London Welsh have scored fewer, tumbling from second to fifth.

But in difficult conditions, Tom Homer kicked four penalties to edge Bath to a narrow 12-3 win against Sale Sharks, with England back-up No.10 Danny Cipriani adding a solitary kick for the visitors.

It was far from a classic performance from Bath – they have now not scored a try in the league for over four hours – but it was all about the win and re-establishing their Premiership position according to Ford.

“Sale are a tough side, they’re difficult to beat home or away,” said Ford. “The way they compete at the breakdown, they’re tough to play against and I think you probably saw that tonight.

“If you don’t get a score in front, they have the capability to stay in it and nick games like this – they did it to us last year and we learned our lessons from that.

“It was three defeats on the spin before this game tonight and it was all about just getting back on the horse – we have a break now in the league after this win.

“The internationals will be over by then, we’ll have everyone back and then it’s case of seeing what the rest of the season holds for us.

“I thought our defence was outstanding, it was good last week as well and Sale never looked like scoring.

“I thought perhaps we were a little fortunate after the break and that wind really helped us but I am pleased overall.

“I thought we were better in the second half in terms of keeping the ball in the right areas.

“It’s frustrating to have your international players sitting in the stands and watching on but their first game back will be against Leinster in Dublin and so I think their recent experiences will help us.”

Sale boss Steve Diamond refused to be too downcast with his side’s performance after a gritty showing at the Recreation Ground – they made over 70 tackles in the first-half.

He said: “We put a lot of hard work and endeavour into the game and it’s frustrating not to have got anything out of the game.

“I thought we probably should have gone for the posts in the second half and pick up an away bonus point but the team and the captain decided not to and kicked for touch instead.

“This result shows the difference between us and the top four sides, our players turn out every week, we don’t have a big squad and I thought we just looked tired when we got the ball tonight.

“We welcome the break, we have three home games coming up and we just want to pick up some points and keep challenging these sides like Bath.

“It was a good defensive display and I think in the first half our tackle count had a 95 per cent success, it was very pleasing and I think our performance was enough to warrant something from this game.

“We just got a little bit flustered, we didn’t show enough composure and that’s very frustrating – it’s something for us to work on.”
 
Bath: Homer (Arscott 78); Rokoduguni, Burgess (Banahan 58), Eastmond, Woodburn; Devoto, Cook (Young 47); Auterac (Lahiff 66), Webber (Batty 55), Thomas (Newport 16), Hooper (capt), Day, Garvey (Mercer 71), Louw, Fearns (Fa'osiliva 64)
 
Sale Sharks: Haley; Arscott, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto (Brady 74); Cipriani, Cusiter (Cliff 65); Lewis-Roberts (Harrison 59), Taylor, Cobilas, Mills (Beaumont 61), Hines, Braid (Ioane 59), Seymour, Lund.
Replacements not used: Neild, Flynn, Ford
 
Scorers 
   
Bath Rugby 
Penalties: Homer 4
 
Exeter Chiefs 
Penalties: Cipriani 
 
Referee: Wayne Barnes

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