Sale Sharks director of rugby, Alex Sanderson, believes a last-gasp 30-27 win against Bath last Friday could prove crucial as the season progresses.

First-half tries from Joe Carpenter, Sam Dugdale, Tom Roebuck and Tommy Taylor had put the hosts in control, though Niall Annett’s try on the stroke of half time offered the visitors some hope.

A 17-point haul from Bath captain Ben Spencer looked to have secured them victory after they fought back from 22-3 down to lead 27-25.

But Arron Reed’s late score in the final minute snatched the full five points for Sale.

Sanderson said: “When we look back on the season, if we are lucky enough to earn ourselves a home semi-final, it’s on nights like tonight that you do that, you earn it. It’s quite significant I feel.

“It’s a decent sign of where we are going - hopefully if we keep them together this group can do special things, not just this year but for years.

“I knew we’d be digging in that second half, really digging in and that’s all I asked of them. I didn’t ask them to win, just dig in and they did.

“You see how much it matters to them on the sideline, me included, over exuberant celebrations but it matters, it really matters them fighting for each other.”

Bath head coach Johann van Graan was naturally disappointed and said: “That’s a difficult one to take, specifically the way we fought back, got ourselves ahead and then defended so well with 13 men.

“Across the 80, we have to be better. We conceded a yellow card within a minute and they scored a try because you don’t have your blind winger to cover that - minus those five points and you win the game.

“The positive for me is the way we stayed in the fight, we had to stop a maul and defend with five backs and that’s signs of growth, but I would have loved to win that one.

“We are fighting and that’s all I’m looking for.

“We are not going to be perfect in the first season but you put yourselves in the position, tonight, to beat Sale second in the league away.

“This competition is definitely not over for us this season. There’s a lot of rugby left this season.”