Director of rugby Alex Sanderson insisted he was not concerned by Sale’s faltering attack after the league leaders claimed a scrappy 11-9 Premiership victory over Bath on Friday night.

The Sharks conceded five turnovers inside Bath’s 22 in the second half and needed George Ford’s 37-metre penalty with seven minutes remaining to snatch the points.

The visitors led for the majority of the top-of-the-table clash thanks to three Finn Russell penalties, while Sale’s Jonny Hill scored the only try of the game in the first half.

Bath led 9-5 at the break and some desperate defending, including a 10-minute spell inside their own 22, kept them ahead before Ford sealed it.

Sanderson admitted there were areas to work on but as long as Sharks continued winning - this marked their sixth in seven league games - then he did not care how they did it.

“I would rather look bad and win than look good and lose,” he said.

“We found a way again, that is the third game of that nature where we have had to dig in and find a way to win through the set-piece.

“There was some George Ford magic at the end there and I am proud, very proud as always when they dig in like that and dominate the game physically - which I think they did - and territorially.

“As the night went on, we had five turnovers on the 22 so we will need to fix that and go again, there is a lot more in us.

“There is no long-term concern but as always, there is a focus on that area after tonight. I think defensively they were really good, so we leaned on our scrum and set-piece, which were very good and George was excellent as well.”

This was not a match that will live long in the memory but come the end of the season, it could be significant.

Sale look set for another strong push after losing in last season’s final, while Bath again showed their impressive start to the season was not necessarily a flash in the pan.

They are rebuilding under Johann Van Graan and - despite the defeat - the South African insisted they were on the right track.

“I feel proud, to come here and come so close is disappointing, but I have a lot of pride in the group,” he said.

“We kept the lead for 70-odd minutes, so that is tough to take but there is a lot of take from it.

“I believe we are on a journey, we are getting better and even though we lost tonight, we stayed in the fight and competed with the team on top of the lot.

“All credit to the defence, we stayed in the fight and when the top two teams play each other, it comes down to fine margins and some of our patches were terrific and so was our defence on the goalline.

“It came down to one penalty in the end.”