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Bath pull plug on Sale

Dave Attwood scored a dramatic last-minute try as Bath opened their LV=Cup campaign with a 27-20 victory over Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Both teams chose to field weakened sides for this encounter and that lack of continuity was evident in the opening half.

They went into the break level at 10-10 with Michael Paterson and Joe Ford scoring for Sale and Anthony Perenise and Tom Heathcote responding for the West Country outfit.

Heathcote added a second three-pointer after the break before Matt Banahan touched down for what appeared to be the game-winning try.

But the hosts then hit back through Nick Macleod's penalty and Mike Haley's try before Attwood was the hero for Bath when he scampered clear.

The Sharks were looking to go one better than their final defeat last season, where they succumbed 32-14 to Harlequins, and they got off to the perfect start when Martin Roberts' kick was charged down.

That allowed the Manchester outfit to build a number of phases and, when the pressure eventually forced a Bath infringement, Ford converted the penalty opportunity to give the hosts a 3-0 advantage.

However, numerous handling errors prevented either side from putting a coherent passage of play together in the first quarter.

But on 22 minutes, the visitors managed to get a powerful maul going from outside Sale's 22 and it ended in Perenise touching down, with Heathcote adding the extras.

It was the spark the game - and the Sharks - needed after a dull and mistake-ridden opening to the encounter.

Steve Diamond's team duly retook the lead when the driving game once again resulted in a score as Paterson went over for a converted try.

Heathcote then responded for Bath via a penalty just before half-time as the teams went into the interval level at 10-10.

The sides emerged for the second period in the midst of a deluge which furthered hampered any chances of the respective outfits keeping the ball in hand.

But from nowhere, substitute Banahan conjured a moment of inspiration when his off-load sent Nick Abendanon clear.

Although the move broke down after a knock-on, Sale handed back possession from the resultant scrum and Heathcote kicked a drop-goal.

Despite the conditions, Bath were now in control of proceedings with their powerful forward pack sending the Sharks into reverse gear.

And the hosts eventually succumbed when a clever chip-kick from the away team's stand-off was well finished off by Banahan.

Heathcote was once again successful with the conversion as they opened up a 20-10 advantage.

However, Sale were not finished and, after Macleod had reduced the arrears with a penalty, Haley crossed the whitewash to level matters.

But in a dramatic final phase of play, Attwood stole the ball in contact and went over in the corner to give Bath the win.


From Belfast Telegraph