Cool Barkley puts Sale in stranglehold

Bath 27 - Sale 13

Bath took their biggest scalp of the season yesterday and in doing so helped knock Sale off the top of the Zurich Premiership. That lofty status now belongs back with Leicester, who claimed a full five points for their win at Worcester.

Bath took their biggest scalp of the season yesterday and in doing so helped knock Sale off the top of the Zurich Premiership. That lofty status now belongs back with Leicester, who claimed a full five points for their win at Worcester.

Bath's quaint and picturesque venue was full to its 10,500 capacity for the visit of a side that have played some outstanding rugby in the opening weeks of the season.

The match took place as England were preparing to take on Canada at Twickenham, a thought that may well have been in the mind of full-back Matthew Perry, who returned to first-team duties following his latest fightback from a series of injuries that stretched back three years.

Perry could have been forgiven for easing himself slowly into action. But instead of merely conducting defensive duties and occasional forays into the line he went looking for work at every opportunity and was among the players to catch the eye before being replaced in the 75th minute by Joe Maddock.

By that point Bath had the game won. The home flanker James Scaysbrook claimed the game's first score when he cut through the visiting defence to touchdown after six minutes.

The centre Olly Barkley added the conversion, the first of his seven successful shots at goal, and Bath were on their way. Penalties from Barkley in the 11th and 19th minutes emphasised the near exclusive territorial advantage they enjoyed during the opening period.

Bath's fly-half Chris Malone was largely to blame for Sale's lack of opportunity, punishing the visitors with a series of well placed tactical kicks

When the Sale full-back Chris Mayor failed to deal with what was perhaps the worst of Malone's kicks, the centre Alex Crockett rushed up and gathered before racing away to score and Barkley converted again.

Shortly before half-time the Sale fly-half Mike Hercus struck a penalty and then a lazy attempt at a clearance was charged down by flanker Magnus Lund, who latched on to possession before sprinting away unimpeded for the line.

Hercus converted and added another penalty. That opportunity came after the Bath captain Jonathan Humphries had been shown a yellow card for dragging down an advancing Sale maul.

However, any hopes Sale had of overhauling their hosts were dashed as Bath continued to thwart and frustrate them at every turn and Barkley stepped forward to kick the three second-half penalties that ended the contest. Sale also had Lund sent to the sin bin in the dying minutes for killing the ball.

Bath: M Perry (J Maddock, 75); F Welsh (S Davey, 79), A Crockett, O Barkley, B Daniel; C Malone, N Walshe (M Baxter, 79); D Barnes, J Humphreys (capt; L Mears, 26-31 & 79), D Bell (C Loader, 79), J Hudson, R Fidler (D Smith, 79), J Scaysbrook, I Feaunati, M Lipman (G Lewis, 18-26; Mears, 47-50; Lewis 75).

Sale: R Todd; J Moore, J Baxendall (R Wigglesworth, 79), C Rhys-Jones, C Mayor; M Hercus, S Martens; S Turner (S Bozzi, 79), J Roddam, B Stewart, C Day, D Schofield, C Jones (P Caillet, 58), S Chabal, M Lund.

Referee: W Barnes (RFU).

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