|Sale (7) 22|
|Tries: Van Rensburg, JL du Preez, D du Preez Cons: MacGinty 2 Pen: MacGinty|
|Bath (17) 37|
|Tries: McConnochie, Spencer 2, Joseph Cons: Priestland 4 Pens: Priestland 3|
Bath won their fourth successive Premiership game for a bonus-point success over top-four rivals Sale.
Ben Spencer twice crossed with Sharks players in the sin-bin and Rhys Priestland was perfect from the tee.
Bath’s opening try came from Ruaridh McConnochie and Jonathan Joseph confirmed the extra point that lifts Bath into third above Sale.
Rohan Janse van Rensburg, and twins Jean-Luc du Preez and Daniel du Preez scored the hosts’ tries.
Sale started the day in second spot but now drop to fourth as Wasps won at home to weakened Bristol.
Boss Steve Diamond also revealed afterwards that World Cup winning lock forward Lood De Jager – a pivotal presence in their lineout – will require surgery on his injured shoulder and will potentially be out for six months.
The Sharks looked in control for 20 minutes and led when Van Rensburg drove over after an AJ MacGinty offload, but Bath replied with McConnochie’s ninth try in 11 games.
And, when Sale had captain Jono Ross yellow-carded for tripping, Bath hit the home side for 10 points, when scrum-half Spencer popped up to ground Joseph’s kick through.
Another MacGinty offload, this time to Jean-Luc du Preez, closed the gap to two points after the break but two more errors proved costly for Sale.
First, newly returned former England prop Rob Webber was sent to the sin-bin, just 12 minutes after coming on, and then Spencer stole the ball from Marland Yarde to stroll in.
Sale did hit back through Daniel du Preez but Joseph secured Bath a bonus-point win when he gathered a high ball under the Sale posts.
Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper:
“It’s not just about the name on the back of the shirt, it’s about the attributes they bring to the game and Ben Spencer has brought what we thought.
“He leads the boys around the field, he demands standards and then he’s got a game which is the nuts and bolts of scrum-half play. It’s world-class, genuinely world-class. He’s definitely demonstrated what he can do, dictating the tempo of the game and then nailing the basics.”
“Pre-lockdown and during lockdown they were amazing, they worked incredibly hard and it blew us away. Everything’s different, there are so many rules, regulations and restrictions outside of the pitch so when they get on there, that’s their moment of freedom, that’s their chance to go and play.”
Sale boss Steve Diamond:
“We didn’t play well and they played pretty well. They stuck to their guns and sorted us out in the lineout. We had no answer to that.
“If you can’t get any set-piece ball and you get two yellow cards, and you give double figure penalties away, maybe we’ve reached our level. Maybe we’re not good enough to be in the top four and that’s what I said to the lads.
“Take nothing away from Bath, they were good, very good, but equally we created a lot of chances. It wasn’t as though there was no invention but, if you give two yellow cards away and you can’t win a lineout, we’re doing well to score 22 points.”
Sale: L James; Solomona, Tuilagi, Rensburg, Yarde; MacGinty, De Klerk; Morozov, Van der Merwe, John, Postlethwaite, JL du Preez, Ross (capt), B Curry, T Curry.
Replacements: Webber, Oosthuizen, Cooper-Woolley, Wiese, D du Preez, Cliff, S James, Reed.
Sin-bin: Ross (23), Webber (62).
Bath: De Glanville; Hamer-Webb, Joseph, J Matavesi, McConnochie; Priestland, Spencer; Obano, Dunn, Stuart, McNally, Ewels (capt), Bayliss, Underhill, Faletau.
Replacements: Batty, Schoeman, Thomas, Spencer, Ellis, Reid, Chudley, Redpath.