Premiership: Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks
|Bath (6) 12|
|Pens: Homer 4|
|Sale Sharks (3) 3|
Bath ended a run of three successive Premiership defeats to move up to second in the table by beating Sale.
A tight game short on expansive rugby was settled by the boot, with Bath's Tom Homer kicking four penalties to Danny Cipriani's one for the Sharks.
Mike Ford's side have jumped above Saracens, Exeter Chiefs and Wasps in the standings but all three could overhaul them with weekend victories.
Sale remain seventh, five points from the play-off positions.
Bath deserved their win, their first in the league since beating Wasps on 10 January, but it was an attritional contest in which both teams struggled to seriously threaten the opposition's try line with any regularity.
The hosts had the better of a scrappy first half that was dominated by the boot, full-back Homer slotting over the first points with his second penalty attempt after dragging his first effort wide of the upright.
Cipriani, able to feature at The Rec after being released from England duty, slipped horribly when presented with the chance to level from 25 metres and things got worse for Sale when Mike Haley failed to gather the restart cleanly.
Homer, who recently joined Bath from London Irish, added three more points after the Sharks infringed at the resulting scrum, although Cipriani responded to cut the gap to three points by half-time.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first early on, but Semesa Rokoduguni provided a spark for Bath near the hour mark, the winger's break down the right touchline setting the platform for another penalty attempt, which Homer kicked to make it 9-3.
Homer was erratic from the tee, missing three of his seven shots at goal, but his fourth success left Sale - who conceded a total of 15 penalties - outside the range that would have earned them a losing bonus point.
Despite their sizeable territorial advantage and the impetus given to them by replacement scrum-half Micky Young in the final 30 minutes, Bath could not break down the visiting defence, failing to score a try for the second match in succession.
Bath head coach Mike Ford: "I thought we might have played too much in the first half. Their defence was very good, and they slowed the ball down really well.
"But our game management was better in the second half, and I felt comfortable once we were nine points in front because our defence was that good.
"We will have a couple of good weeks off now, and then we should have a full squad back.
"We were in the top four last season until the last day and then we got knocked out. There is no way we are going to relax this season. We will keep knocking games off one by one and see where we are at the end of the season."
Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond: "There was a lot of hard work and a great defensive effort, and not to get a bonus point is disappointing.
"We were pretty equal out there tonight for long periods of time - we just lost a bit of composure in attack.
"We are tired. We have a small squad, so everyone plays 80 minutes. We have just come to the end of four hard games, and it showed. In attack, we were just off the pace a little bit, but the endeavour was fantastic."
Bath: Homer; Rokoduguni, Burgess, Eastmond, Woodburn; Devoto, Cook; Auterac, Webber, Thomas, Hooper (capt), Day, Garvey, Louw, Fearns.
Replacements: Batty, Lahiff, Palma-Newport, Fa'osiliva, Mercer, Young, Banahan, L Arscott.
Sale Sharks: Haley; T Arscott, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto; Cipriani, Cusiter; Lewis-Roberts, Taylor, Cobilas, Mills, Hines, Braid (capt), Seymour, Lund.
Replacements: Neild, Flynn, Harrison, Beaumont, Ioane, Cliff, Ford, Brady.