Guinness Premiership round-up: Barkley helps Bath keep Sale in hot water

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The Independent Online

Bath kept themselves in contention for a place in the Guinness Premiership play-offs with a five-try, 34-15 victory over Sale at the Recreation Ground.

Lee Mears, Matt Banahan, Olly Barkley, Joe Maddock and David Barnes scored Bath's tries and Barkley kicked three conversions and a penalty. Ben Cohen and Kristian Ormsby scored Sale's tries and Richard Wigglesworth kicked a conversion and a penalty.

The man who bought Bath this week, Bruce Craig, was in attendance. The Bath coach, Steve Meehan, said: "We were a little bit rusty but it was a good performance leading into Tuesday evening's game with Northampton.

"It's been a week that none of us has experienced before and there were errors for the first 20 minutes, but in the end it was a nice start for the new chairman. But now nothing less than three wins will do. We've still got to rely on other teams slipping up."

The Bath fly-half Butch James suffered an injury but Meehan said: "I don't think it's anything serious. We took him off as a precaution."

Sale's director of rugby, Kingsley Jones, said: "It was probably the best first 20 minutes we've managed away from home for a long time. But then we couldn't get our hands on the ball because of indiscipline."

Sale play Newcastle on Friday. Jones said: "It's all about winning to be safe, but also about getting some confidence into the team. We are fighting for our lives. This could go to the wire."

Today, Leicester are away to Newcastle and London Irish face Leeds at the Madejski Stadium. The Exiles' head coach, Toby Booth, said: "Teams involved in relegation battles are always dangerous prospects. We are expecting a reaction from Leeds after last weekend's defeat by Harlequins." A win for Leeds will give them a cushion of six points (seven if they can score four tries) over the bottom club, Worcester, before they meet at Headingley next Sunday.

The Scarlets lost 39-16 at home to the Cardiff Blues in the Magners League. Jamie Roberts scored two tries for the Blues and Deiniol Jones, Taufa'ao Filise and Richie Reese scored one each. Ben Blair kicked 14 points. Regan King scored the Scarlets' try and Stephen Jones kicked 11 points.

In the Super 14, the Queensland Reds beat the Bulls 19-12 in Brisbane, the Blues beat the Western Force 38-17 in Auckland, and the Crusaders beat the Cheetahs 45-6 in Christchurch. The Crusaders, Bulls and Reds are joined in the play-off places by the Stormers, with four rounds to go.

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