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Match Report: Sale Sharks 27 Bath Rugby 24

06 May 2017
Match Report: Sale Sharks 27 Bath Rugby 24

Bath Rugby missed out on the Aviva Premiership Rugby top four after coming out on the wrong side of a six-try thriller with Sale Sharks.

Knowing nothing but a bonus-point win would be enough, Max Clark scored in the first half but Bath weren’t able to get a lead, as Denny Solomona and Ben Curry both crossed for the hosts.

Josh Charnley got Sale’s third but a penalty score and Matt Banahan kept Bath fighting right until the last, with three points separating the two sides heading into the closing five minutes.

But the score was not to be forthcoming as Bath finished in fifth place, though it was the perfect way for some of the Sharks legends to sign off at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Sale began on the front foot despite not putting points on the board in the early stages, unable to make the most of their early pressure as the first 15 minutes finished scoreless.

From there the game surged into life though, as a burst from MacGinty, Ross Harrison and Byron McGuigan set the Sharks away, the former eventually kicking the resulting penalty.

That move also saw prop Shaun Knight into the sin-bin for ten minutes, but that didn’t stop Bath getting the first try of the match.

Their first foray into running rugby saw Clark finish off an excellent move, taking the ball at pace to sprint through the gap with a beautiful line to crash under the posts for his second try in two matches.

Rhys Priestland’s conversion extended Bath’s first lead of the match, though a second MacGinty penalty ensured the gap was to be cut to one at 6-7 at the half-hour mark.

But another moment of brilliance had Sale back ahead, with  Solomona showing the form that has taken him to an England call-up this summer.

Another venture into the Bath saw the wing barge his way over the line, showing perfect strength to follow up the superb pace he had shown moments earlier, stepping the defence in a wonderful individual try.

They say you’re at your most vulnerable just after you’ve scored, and that seemed to be the case for Sale, conceding a penalty barely a minute after dotting down, with Priestland making no mistake from the tee.

And just as it seemed the half-time difference would be three, the Sharks picked up their second try of the first half through Ben Curry.

It was a brilliant score to end the half too, making the most of excellent work from Charnley before taking an equally-impressive pass from Mike Haley, crashing over as the hosts looked to end the season on a strong note.

That attacking endeavour continued into the second half as Charnley got his own deserved try – an excellent set-piece score befitting a match-winning effort in any game.

It began with brilliant footwork from Sam James and, with the ball spread wide, Charnley barraged his way into the corner for the Sharks’ third score of the afternoon, leaving Bath with plenty to do with a 17-point deficit.

But with a top-four place at stake, Bath weren’t giving up without a fight and they drew the game closer once again through a penalty try, with scrum pressure leaving referee Greg Garner with no choice but to award the score.

Their third try of the afternoon followed quickly after, with Banahan doing the work despite Sale holding the scrum resolutely, as the power of the wing proved its worth to cut the gap to 27-24.

That left the Sharks with a nervy 15 minutes to negotiate, with both sides looking to get a bonus-point score could have had major permutations on the season.

But despite the furious finish, no more points were to come from hand or boot, leaving Sharks as the victors in an excellent finale to the Aviva Premiership Rugby season.

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