Mark Cueto’s late try secured a priceless victory for Sale Sharks in their battle to avoid relegation as they overcame Bath in horrific conditions.
With survival at stake, a solid first-half performance from Sale took them into the break 9-3 ahead through three Nick Macleod penalties.
Bath, who still harbour top-four ambitions in the Premiership, responded before the interval via Tom Heathcote’s three-pointer. Horacio Agulla’s try then took the West Country outfit into the lead, but Cueto’s excellent finish sealed the win and took them six points clear of London Welsh, who play Gloucester today.
In snow-laden conditions it was the Sharks who had the first foray into the opposition 22 as Macleod’s well-judged kick was taken into touch by Nick Abendanon.
The match remained attritional in the early exchanges. That was until Abendanon’s poorly directed clearance fell in the grateful arms of James Gaskell. Good hands then set up an excellent position from which the visitors were caught offside and Sale’s stand-off put them 3-0 ahead.
Heathcote soon equalised but it was not long before the Sharks were back in the lead as Bath infringed straight from the restart. Macleod converted the resulting opportunity and then added a further three-pointer just before the interval.
But Gary Gold’s team had the wind at their backs in the second period and they immediately put pressure on the Sharks’ defence. It eventually paid off when Matt Banahan’s surge and off-load found Agulla and the winger scampered over.
Nevertheless, Sale continued to show plenty of determination and they found a decisive score when a well-worked move saw Cueto collect the ball out wide and he showed express pace to break the gainline and touch down.
Sale: Shepherd; Amesbury, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto; MacLeod, Peel; Dickinson, Jones, Thomas, Gaskell, Ostrikov, Braid, Seymour, Powell.
Bath: Abendanon; Agulla, Banahan, Eastmond, Biggs; Heathcote, Stringer; James, Webber, Wilson, Hooper, Attwood, Louw, Fearns, Skirving.
Referee: J P Doyle (RFU).