Sale maintains top spot with tense victory over Bath, thanks to George Ford’s performance.
Sale secured their sixth victory of the season and widened their lead at the top of the Premiership to five points with an 11-9 win over Bath, thanks to George Ford’s late penalty kick. Despite a resilient performance from Bath, Ford’s successful mid-range penalty with seven minutes remaining proved to be the game-winning move for the Sharks.
In a closely contested match at Salford Stadium, Jonny Hill scored the lone try for Sale. Despite three penalties from Finn Russell giving Bath the advantage, Sale’s strong defense nearly secured them a well-deserved away win. A standout moment was their impressive 10-minute hold in their own 22, but ultimately, Sale’s Ford sealed the win.
According to Sale’s director of rugby, Alex Sanderson, this was one of the few instances this season where they had to come up with a strategy in the final moments to secure a win. In previous games, it was their defense that helped them win, but in this game, it was their set-piece and kicking skills. This demonstrates the resourcefulness of our team and proves that we have various methods to control the game and turn a potential loss into a win.
Bath had a strong start and Sale’s undisciplined behavior resulted in giving away too many penalties. This allowed Russell to take advantage. Despite the fact that kicking was the key factor in the game, the Scottish player did not have many opportunities to showcase his ball-handling skills. However, he excelled in his kicking game and capitalized on three of Sale’s mistakes in the first half.
The home team seemed to have the upper hand in the struggle for territory and achieved a significant advance by receiving a penalty during the scrum and opting to kick for the corner. During the second attempt at a lineout, the players formed a maul and Hill broke away to forcefully cross the try line, giving Bath a 9-5 lead at halftime.
The second half of the match began with Sale showing great strength, as Gus Warr made a clever kick behind Bath’s defense and out of bounds. Luke Cowan-Dickie then made a jackal over the ball, resulting in a penalty for failure to release. George Ford successfully made the penalty kick, narrowing the gap to just one point.
The Sale team had difficulty breaking through the opposing team’s defense and had to rely on Ford’s skillful kicks to gain territory. However, Russell also showed strategic thinking and prevented Bath from getting into dangerous situations. In an effort to regain control, Bath brought in three international players – hooker Tom Dunn, scrum half Ben Spencer, and centre Cam Redpath – as substitutes. But in the last few minutes, Ford made a crucial 37m kick from the right side of the goalposts, securing a victory for Sale on their home turf.
After Bath’s third loss of the season, their rugby director, Johann van Graan, commented: “The game was ultimately decided by a scrum penalty called by an assistant referee, so we will review it. However, I believe our focus should be on our performance and I am extremely proud of the team.”
“We came with the intention of winning, so it is disappointing to lose. However, we persevered and it demonstrates the great belief and progress within our team. I believe we made improvements this week.”
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In an intense match, Lewis Ludlam, Alex Mitchell, and Alex Coles scored for the Saints. Despite being down 21-12 at halftime, Quins put up a fight and almost came back to win in the end. Nathan Jibulu’s late goal narrowed the gap to three points.