Sale Sharks had their new year party wrecked as they fell short in the closing moments of their final Gallagher Premiership match of the decade.

A second-half fightback from Steve Diamond’s men wasn’t enough to complete back-to-back victories in the league, as Bath took the spoils via a Rhys Priestland penalty in the 70th minute.

The hosts took the lead early on in the game with Sale being penalised for offside after seven minutes defending just inside their half, Priestland slotting home the resulting kick at goal to give his side a 3-0 lead.

Bath continued to press the Sharks defence with a wave of divisive attacks after the kick off which eventually led to another penalty being awarded to the hosts, Priestland again making no mistake as he slotted home to take the hosts six points in front.

Sale did manage to make good ground into the Bath 22 later in the half only for a slick move to be brought back for a forward pass. Bustling runs from Dan du Preez and Rohan Janse van Rensburg saw the away side press towards the try-line several times but despite this pressure, the Sharks were unable to take advantage of their dominance and were turned over under the posts to the roar of the home crowd.

After taking a 6-0 lead into the interval Bath began the second half on the front foot again and scored the first try of the day as Priestland found Jonathan Joseph with a good pass inside the Sharks half, sending the England centre over to score. Priestland extended the lead with the conversion and the home side were ahead 13-0.

This clearly lit a fire in Sale, as the Sharks launched an assault on the Bath defence from the kick-off and eventually got over through Akker van der Merwe after a powerful attacking maul. Rob du Preez was good for the follow up and the home side’s lead was reduced to 13-7 almost immediately.

Sale didn’t take their foot off the pedal in the following moments and soon got over again after executing well at the kick-off a second time.

A well worked move saw Byron McGuigan crash over to score in the corner after a looping miss pass from Rob du Preez just three minutes after van der Merwe’s try.

South African international Du Preez added the extras with a great kick from the touchline and Sale led for the first time in the match with the scores at 14-13, setting up an intense final 20 minutes.

After back and forth play and impressive defence from both teams, it looked like one score would decide the game and after Sale were penalised in the 70th minute for a no arms tackle by Tom Curry, Priestland wasted no time in sending for the tee before slotting home a final penalty to put his side back in the lead.

 Sale couldn’t find an answer in the closing minutes and the scoreline remained unchanged, with Bath holding on to a 16-14 win sending the Sharks back to Manchester with a solitary bonus point for their efforts.

They next host Harlequins on Friday, 7.45pm kick-off.