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Match Report: Sale Sharks 29 Bath Rugby 17

17 Apr 2016
Match Report: Sale Sharks 29 Bath Rugby 17

Sale Sharks boosted their hopes of a top-six Aviva Premiership Rugby finish thanks to a bonus-point 29-17 victory over Bath Rugby.

The Sharks secured their third win on the bounce and denied Bath taking a losing bonus point away from the AJ Bell Stadium late on.

The home side raced into a 17-6 lead courtesy of tries from Vadim Cobilas and Will Addison in the opening 20 minutes.

But three penalties from George Ford and a second half Semesa Rokoduguni score brought Bath Rugby back to 17-17.

But with Dominic Day seeing yellow in the final ten minutes, a driving maul from the Sharks saw David Seymour cross before Mark Easter secured the bonus point.

Sale – so impressive at home all year – opened the scoring with their first visit to the Bath 22 as tighthead prop Cobilas found a gap and went over following an initial drive from Mike Haley.

Danny Cipriani successfully added the conversion to give Sale a 7-0 lead after the opening ten minutes.

The visitors responded through a Ford penalty on 14 minutes but Sale had their second try just six minutes later.

Cipriani created the gap out wide for Sale’s Addison to cross over on the right wing for his fourth Aviva Premiership Rugby try of the season before the fly-half successfully added the extras again.

A strong tackle from Andrei Ostrikov forcing a knock-on from Matt Garvey to knock on but Sharks were penalised from their resulting scrum and Ford’s kick reduced the deficit to 14-6.

Bath then thought they had their first try of the game when Rokoduguni intercepted and ran to score but play was brought back for a deliberate Bath knock-on in the build-up.

Cipriani once again stepped up and made it three successful kicks out of three to extend the Sharks lead to 17-6.

Bath again responded through the boot of Ford after the Sharks were caught offside to make the score at half-time 17-9.

After multiple reset scrums, Rokoduguni crossed the try line for the second time in the afternoon ten minutes into a scrappy second half and this time the five points were awarded to the visitors.

Superb hands from the Bath backs, including Ollie Devoto and Ford, created the space on the right wing for Rokoduguni and the deficit was reduced to 17-14.

Ford failed with the conversion for the visitors but took the opportunity to make up for the miss minutes later when his successful penalty brought the scores level.

Cipriani missed two penalties and Ford was unsuccessful once before Sale decided to kick a penalty towards the corner to set up an attacking line-up.

From the resulting driving maul, Bath lock Day saw yellow from referee Luke Pearce, in his 50th Aviva Premiership Rugby game, as the visitors were forced to finish the game with 14 men.

Sale weren’t to be stopped as a second driving maul was successful and they regained the lead through Seymour.

The television match official was required to check whether Cipriani’s conversion had dipped inside the posts but it was ruled that it didn’t and the score remained 22-17.

There was concern for Bath fans as Kyle Eastmond left the pitch on a stretcher with just minutes left on the clock and their misery was compounded as Easter scored the Sharks’ bonus point try.

Cipriani added the extras and some gloss to an impressive victory that reinvigorates their top-six challenge. 

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