Premiership: Bath 30-3 Sale Sharks

By Gary SmeeBBC Sport
Bath's Matt Banahan
Jersey-born Matt Banahan won 16 caps for England between 2009 and 2011
Bath (10) 30
Tries: Banahan, Fotuali'i, Palma-Newport Cons: Ford 3 Pens: Ford 3
Sale (3) 3
Pen: Addison

Bath moved up to second in the early-season Premiership table with a hard-fought victory over Sale Sharks.

Matt Banahan powered over early on for the hosts at The Rec - the wing's 50th try for the Blue, Black and Whites - as Bath took a 10-3 lead into the break.

Bath then struggled before Kahn Fotuali'i raced clear for a second try and Kane Palma-Newport bundled over.

Co-captain George Ford landed a 100% record from the tee as Bath closed to within a point of leaders Wasps.

Bath, who finished a disappointing ninth last season after reaching the Premiership final in 2015, have now won five of their opening six league matches.

Man-of-the-match Banahan was once again instrumental and it was the versatile 29-year-old, playing at inside centre, who gave his side a third-minute lead, slicing apart the Sale defence and powering through the final tackle to finish off a rousing attack and claim his fourth try of the season.

However, Todd Blackadder's side looked far from comfortable with ball-in-hand in the face of Sale's committed tackling either side of the break, until Samoa scrum-half Fotuali'i's 40-yard run and touch down just after the hour mark.

Bath, whose defence was rarely threatened by Sale, had 11 players unavailable including England's latest injury victim Anthony Watson, but welcomed back Jonathan Joseph from a dead leg.

Jonathan Joseph
Jonathan Joseph looked sharp on his return from injury

The England centre impressed, making several bursting runs with international boss Eddie Jones watching on in the stands.

Jones would have also been encouraged by what he saw from the boot of fly-half Ford who nailed six kicks from six to make the final advantage bigger than the performance suggested.

Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder: "The boys put in a massive effort tonight. Defensively, once again, it was just so courageous, wasn't it?

"We just worked ourselves into the ground and through our defence we took those opportunities to score some points. That was outstanding.

"I didn't have a lot of expectations at the beginning. We've just taken it one week at a time. Even with that performance out there, we still have a lot of work-ons.

"We just get better every week, but there's a long way to go. I'm really encouraged by what I am seeing."

Bath: Homer; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Banahan, Brew; George Ford (co-capt), Fotuali'i; Catt, Dunn, Thomas, Stooke, Attwood, Garvey (co-capt), Ellis, Mercer.

Replacements: Batty, Auterac, Palma-Newport, Ewels, Mercer, Cook, Hastings, Williams.

Sale Sharks: McGuigan; Addison, James, Leota, Odogwu; MacGinty, Phillips; Lewis-Roberts, Briggs, Mujati, Evans, Mills, Neild, Seymour, Beaumont (capt).

Replacements: Harrison, Aulika, Ostrikov, Lund, Pearce, Mitchell, Mugford, Haley.

Referee: Tom Foley.

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