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Bath knock Sale Sharks off their perch Bath knock Sale Sharks off their perch

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Bath knock Sale Sharks off their perch

Olly Barkley was the star of their show, with seventeen points from the boot, and there were tries for James Scaysbrook and Alex Crockett.

With both Andy Titterrell and Sebastien Bruno on bench duty for England and France respectively, Sharks' head coach Philippe St Andre was left with only one hooker, John Roddam, for the lunchtime fixture at the Recreation Ground.

He also had to sign prop Sebastian Bozzi and fly-half Byron Hayward during the week on short-term contracts to cover the holes left by international call-ups, both sat among the replacements.

Bath, themselves without England locks Steve Borthwick and Danny Grewcock plus centre Mike Tindall, were able to field a more settled line up despite an unhealthy injury list.

One plus was the return of the forgotten man of England rugby, Matt Perry, after two months out with injury.

The home side were quicker into their stride, stretching Sale from left to right before flanker Scaysbrook found a gap to score the first try after five minutes.

Barkley hooked his conversion attempt but extended Bath's lead to 11 points with two penalties in the first quarter.

Sale's US Eagles fly-half Mike Hercus, guilty of a number of misses on the opening day of the season, was clearly not so confident with his place kicking and missed a sitter at the other end.

Bath then scored a breakaway try on 32 minutes when the busy Crockett benefited after Sale's back three failed to deal with a lofted kick by Chris Malone. Barkley converted and the home side were sitting pretty at 18-0.

Sale responded with a flurry of points to get them back in the game. Hercus finally landed a penalty on 36 minutes and Magnus Lund scored from a charge-down at the end of the first half.

Hercus converted and with Bath skipper Jonathan Humphreys in the sin-bin for a professional foul, landed another successful kick to leave Sale just 18-13 behind at half-time.

The contest was finely balanced and Sale might have scored a second try with a forward drive in the corner but Bath survived and Barkley landed three penalties during a scrappy second-half to clinch the win.

Bath even spurned a simple penalty chance in injury time in search of a try as Sale in turn lost Lund to the sin-bin.

The scorers:

For Bath:Tries: Scaysbrook, CrockettCons: BarkleyPens: Barkley 5

For Sale:Try: LundCon: HercusPens: Hercus 2

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