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Match Reaction: Bath Rugby 32 Sale Sharks 26

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Mike Ford admits Bath Rugby were almost made to pay for not building on a strong first half but was relieved to get five points against Sale Sharks at the Rec.

The West Country outfit dominated the first half to lead 17-0 after 40 minutes, but were rattled early in the second half before eventually emerging 32-26 winners.

Having earned some Aviva Premiership Rugby revenge over the Sharks for last week’s loss in the reverse fixture, Ford explained that Bath should have been further clear at the break.

He said: "It was a bit of a mixed bag. We started well, we started on fire. That was the plan to start both halves well but the first half was good.

"At 17-0 we had thousands of opportunities to make it more than 17 in that first half, but lack of ball control, some poor offloads, one or two things, that's where we should have kicked on really.

"The first half we had all the field position and all the ball possession and it was disappointing. We had the ball set eleven times and I think we only turned it over once in that set.

"In the second half they came out as a very good driving side and they got back into the game through that weapon. One poor penalty by us and next thing we were under the pump a little bit.

"Then we took control of the game again, scored two tries and Will Homer coming on and exciting everyone again.

"Then we finish off with a couple of poor tries against us, but we're pleased with what we've got, a bonus point win, so that's all you can ask.”

Bath started strongly with first-half tries from Ollie Devoto and Charlie Ewels, but Sale responded early in the second half with quickfire scores from Johnny Leota and Andrei Ostrikov to cut the deficit to three points.

The home side then made the game safe with tries from Semesa Rokoduguni and Will Homer, but late tries from TJ Ioane, and a second from Leota, earned two bonus points for the visitors.

Steve Diamond said after the game: "I think seven points out of the two games has been good for us.

"We didn't turn up first half, sometimes that happens to us, we certainly shown a shift at half-time to come out and score 26 points, so we're getting there.

"We're disappointed really with our first-half shift but they're a good side, they described us in the programme as gritty with some good individuals, but they are built on individuals though.

"We were direct about what had happened at half-time.  Bath were all over us in the first half, they were more physical than us and we had to have a shift in that straight away.

"We scored immediately and then scored again straight after that.  

"You've got to give credit to Bath though, they blew us away in the first half and we couldn't handle it.  I think at one point we had 6% possession, so there's not a lot you can do with that.

"It would be huge for us to finish in the top six after what we have spent compared to other teams in the league."
 
Bath Rugby: Priestland, Rokoduguni, Joseph (Williams 76), Devoto (Clark 72), Banahan, Ford, Cook (Homer 62), Catt (Lahiff 58), Webber (Dunn 53), Thomas (Wilson 33), Ewels (Day 58), Attwood, Denton (Douglas 71), Mercer, Houston
 
Sale Sharks: Haley, Addison, James, Leota, Edwards (Brady 55), Cipriani (Ford 73), Stringer (Mitchell 73), Harrison, Taylor (Briggs 62), Cobilas (Mujati 62), Evans, Ostrikov (Mills 55), Ioane, Seymour, Easter (Neild 55)
 
Bath Rugby
Tries: Devoto, Ewels, Rokoduguni, Homer
Conversions: Ford 3
Penalties: Ford 2
 
Sale Sharks
Tries: Leota 2, Ostrikov, Ioane
Conversions: Cipriani 2, Ford
 
Attendance: 12,684
Referee: Ian Tempest

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