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Bath 31 Sale Sharks 10
2:18pm Tuesday 2nd October 2012 in Sport
SALE Sharks found out that, when you’re down, good fortune can desert you, big style.
On a sun-drenched day at the picturesque Recreation Ground, the Premiership’s basement club were just nine points adrift with seven minutes to go, only to suffer two massive blows at the hands of officialdom which left an unrepresentative final score.
An off-the-ball block on Sam Tuitupou wasn’t spotted, allowing Bath to surge down the slope and set up a try for Skirving. Then, with barely a minute left, Andy Powell received a yellow card for a high tackle on Day, later deemed to have been lower down the replacement lock’s body.
The seven-man Sharks scrum struggled and a penalty try to the hosts was the last straw on a frustrating day.
“The score certainly wasn’t a reflection of the game,” said Sharks’ director of rugby Bryan Redpath after the game.
The occasion was inevitably set up for Olly Barkley, who kicked 16 points before his departure to Racing Metro in Paris.
The Sharks had the first chance of three points from just inside the Bath half but Macleod missed the shot at goal. Bath hit back with a penalty from Barkley and the departing fly-half added another three-pointer two minutes later to stretch the home side's lead to 6-0.
It took the Sharks until the 15th minute to get on the board when Macleod made no mistake from 22 metres out. In an edgy first half it was the home side who were just on top and Barkley added another three points just before the half-hour to make it 9-3. He was at it again almost immediately as Sale's discipline let them down to make it 12-3.
Things were going badly for Sharks and it got even worse when winger Tom Brady was sent to the sin bin for allegedly taking out Ben Skirving in the air from the restart.
However they should have hit back when Bath were penalised for hands in the ruck only for Macleod to miss a kickable opportunity as Bath went in nine points to the good.
Ten minutes into the second half Wilson made a bullocking run before being hauled just short of the line. After a couple more phases it was the England prop who juggled the ball before crashing over for the game's first try. Barkley added the conversion to make it 19-3 to the home side.
The Sharks were in danger of losing contact but after some great work by the forwards Leota rumbled his way under the posts. Macleod's conversion reduced the arrears back to nine.
Sharks, with Cipriani on for Macleod, appeared to liven up and Brady was stopped just short of the line when he collected a bouncing, low kick to the corner from the replacement fly half. They missed out on three points when Fowles took a quick tap penalty, instead of allowing Cipriani a chance to narrow the deficit.
However Bath held firm and it was the hosts who were next on the attack from a turnover and from the ensuing counter charge they earned a penalty. The home side chose to kick for the corner and a well-worked lineout drive sent Skirving over the line to put the result beyond doubt. Barkley missed the conversion as Bath led 24-10.
With the final play of the match Bath earned a penalty try from a scrum and Barkley signed off his career at the Rec in style with the conversion from in front of the posts.
Sharks showed signs of improved, measured aggression under the forward coaching of Chief Executive Steve Diamond, but the old mistakes were still made and were inevitably punished by Barkley. Taylor threw well to an effective lineout and Buckley served the cause well in the loose.
Sale Sharks: Miller; Brady, Leota, Tuitupou (Addison 57-62,73), Cueto; Macleod (Cipriani 62), Willis (Fowles 57); Lewis-Roberts (Croall 71), Taylor (Ward 57), Buckley (Cobilas 60), McKenzie (Gaskell 57), Myall, Doyle (Easter 47), Seymour (capt.), Powell