Bath too strong for Sale in front of record Rec crowd
Third-placed Bath made light work of their injury crisis to pick off Sale with a 30-3 Aviva Premiership victory in front of a record crowd of nearly 14,000 at the Recreation Ground.
The Sharks enjoyed plenty of possession and territory in the first half but eventually had no answer to Bath's superior finishing as Matt Banahan, Kahn Fotulali'i and replacement prop Kane Palma-Newport crossed for tries.
George Ford's faultless goal-kicking contributed 15 points, while Will Addison kicked a first-half penalty for the visitors.
With Anthony Watson ruled out after breaking his jaw in England training and Leroy Houston called up by Australia, Bath had a full dozen players unavailable.
However, it took them just two minutes to open the scoring after Dave Attwood claimed a line-out against the throw. A searing outside break by Jonathan Joseph and lightning quick ruck ball saw Banahan burst through a barely formed defensive line to score. Ford converted from out wide.
Sale soon found their rhythm, encouraged by Josh Beaumont's charge off the back of a scrum and the resulting pressure finally yielded a penalty for Addison.
Aggressive carrying and clearing out by Sale kept Bath on the back foot for long periods until a turnover and counter-attack on the half-hour. Joseph was only just closed down as he tried to get a pass away to Aled Brew.
When they broke out again, Joseph slid a grubber through for Semesa Rokoduguni only for Paolo Odogwu to react quickest to prevent a try at the cost of a five-metre scrum.
This time the home pack forced the penalty and Ford's kick gave Bath a slightly flattering 10-3 lead at the break.
Bath were quickest out of the blocks in the second half and Ford kicked his second penalty while Addison hooked an attempt wide at the other end.
When Matt Garvey pilfered a turnover, backchat from Sale cost them 60 metres and discipline let them down again when replacement Halani Aulika was guilty of a late tackle on Attwood.
Play was brought all the way back to the Sale 22 and Ford's penalty made it 16-3 on 56 minutes.
Just after the hour, Fotuali'i pounced on a loose pass from replacement Sale scrum-half James Mitchell and scampered away under the posts for Bath's second try, converted by Ford.
Sale began to look ragged and the third try followed almost immediately to a huge roar as local boy Palma-Newport picked out a ricochet from a line-out and dummied his way past Addison. Ford's conversion took Bath out of sight at 30-3 but the bonus-point try eluded them.