Premiership: Bath beat Sale Sharks 16-14 thanks to Rhys Priestland's boot

Former Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland kicked 11 points to guide Bath to victory
Former Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland kicked 11 points to guide Bath to victory
Gallagher Premiership
Bath (6) 16
Try: Joseph Con: Priestland Pens: Priestland 3
Sale Sharks (0) 14
Tries: Van der Merwe, McGuigan Cons: Du Preez 2

Bath withstood a spirited second-half Sale Sharks fightback to register a second successive victory and continue their climb up the Premiership table.

The Blue, Black and Whites led 6-0 at half-time through Rhys Priestland's penalty, before a Jonathan Joseph try extended their lead after the break.

Akker van der Merwe and Byron McGuigan then both touched down in the space of four minutes as Sale struck back.

But Priestland's third kick from the tee restored Bath's advantage.

And the hosts safely navigated their way through the final nine minutes to move above the Sharks in the table, with victory at The Rec their third in four league games.

Stuart Hooper's side have endured a tough European Champions Cup campaign - losing all four of their Pool Three games so far - but their improving domestic form has seen them remain in the mix for a spot in the play-offs.

Boosted by the return of Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau and South Africa's Francois Louw, they looked in complete control against Sale when Priestland offloaded for Joseph to go through and score.

But Van der Merwe's touchdown behind a rolling maul and McGuigan's try in the corner turned the contest on its head midway through the second period.

However, Priestland had the final say when his superb kick from just inside the Sharks' half put the hosts back in front in the final 10 minutes.

Sale, who knocked Northampton off the top of the table just a week ago, were unable to mount another comeback, maintaining their sequence of loss-win-loss to slip to seventh.

Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper:

"I thought we found ways to pressure them, kick points and ultimately come away with the four points. It sharpens our focus going into Gloucester.

"Europe was going to be a tough competition for us. It was a realisation of where we are. The Premiership is our single focus (now) and we believe that, on any single day, we can beat anyone in the Premiership but we have to play really well to do that.

"Having a single focus is big for us and we go to Gloucester with that single focus. It is not a turning point (beating Sale) but it is an opportunity for us to push hard in the Premiership."

Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond:

"Fair play to Bath, they had their 16th man out there but well done to them.

"I don't know where we are going in the league because we have a dominant scrum and South Africa proved in the World Cup final that, if you have a dominant scrum, you win games.

"But ours isn't getting anything. There is no point in coaching players and getting them to this standard if they are never going to get any ascendancy. That is really disappointing."

Bath: Homer; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Roberts, Watson; Priestland, Chudley; Obano, Dunn, Stuart, McNally, Stooke, Ellis, Louw, Faletau.

Replacements: Walker, Boyce, Judge, Garvey, Bayliss, Cook, Burns, Brew.

Sale Sharks: Ashton; Solomona, S James, Van Rensburg, McGuigan; R du Preez, De Klerk; Oosthuizen, Van der Merwe, John, Evans, Phillips, J Ross, T Curry, D du Preez.

Replacements: Webber, Harrison, Cooper-Woolley, JL du Preez, B Curry, Cliff, MacGinty, Yarde.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)

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