Premiership: Dramatic last-minute try sees Sale Sharks strengthen grip on second
Arron Reed touched down with the clock in the red to help Sale Sharks to a dramatic 30-27 triumph over an improving Bath side on Friday.
Sale were much the better team in the early exchanges and deservedly had the bonus-point wrapped up through Joe Carpenter, Sam Dugdale, Tom Roebuck, and Tommy Taylor tries, but Rob du Preez’s errant kicking almost proved costly.
With Du Preez’s missed conversions giving the West Countrymen a glimmer of hope, the visitors, who are getting better under Johann van Graan, showed tremendous spirit and skill to get back into match.
Niall Annett and Jonathan Joseph went over either side of the break before Ben Spencer crossed the whitewash with 15 minutes remaining.
With Beno Obano making a massive impact at the set-piece on his return from a long-term injury, Bath were in control in the latter stages, but Sale displayed why they are in contention for Premiership silverware this season when Reed won the game late on.
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Bath’s night at the AJ Bell Stadium got off to a dreadful start, with Will Butt sent to the sin bin for dangerous play as full-back Carpenter tried to claim a high ball with barely a minute on the clock.
With the man advantage, Sale soon took the lead. Scrum-half Gus Warr poking a grubber kick behind the visitors’ defence, with Carpenter winning the race to the ball and diving over.
Spencer’s penalty from in front of the posts brought the score to 5-3 after five minutes, but the Sharks forwards fully utilised their powerful driving maul to score three further tries and secure a bonus point after just 32 minutes.
Flanker Dugdale found little resistance from the Bath defence as he went over after 17 minutes, Du Preez marking his 100th appearance for the hosts with a successful conversion.
Another five-metre lineout, 10 minutes later, was stopped only for Jean-Luc du Preez to spot an empty blind side where Roebuck had a clear run to the try line for Sharks’ third try.
The try bonus point came before the break from a second-successful driving maul; this time, it was Taylor who burrowed his way over to give Sale a 22-3 lead.
Annett reduced the deficit with the final play of the half as the Bath pack exacted some revenge with a successful driving maul of their own.
The visitors were back within a score as Spencer’s grubber kick was collected by Joseph, who had the pace to race clear.
Centre Max Ojomoh became the second Bath player in the sin bin before Du Preez struck a penalty to make the score 25-17 with half-an-hour to go.
Redpath joined Ojomoh in the sin bin as he tackled Tom O’Flaherty without the ball, but another Spencer penalty, as well as a converted try for the scrum half, saw the away side lead 27-25.
Du Preez missed two long-range penalties in the closing minutes as the tension mounted, but the Sharks held their nerve to send Reed over in the corner with the final play of the game.
The win sees Sale extend their lead over third-place Harlequins, who play London Irish on Sunday, to 17 points on the Premiership standings.
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