Haag leaves Sale on the slippery slope

Whatever problems Sale may have off the field, they are always a feisty side on it and with Bath still in the title race this was always likely to be a hard-fought encounter. Throw poor conditions, plus a wet and slippery ball into the equation and errors were a foregone conclusion.

Sadly for the game, most of them were by the referee, Geraint Ashton Jones. Inconsistent in giving off-side throughout, he contrived to make what was already a scrappy game even worse. But his biggest errors were in the first half when he showed three players the yellow card.

He sent the Sharks outside-half Nicky Little to the bin in the 14th minute for deliberate off-side when in fact he should have punished either Pete Anglesea or Rob Appleyard. And in the 29th minute he correctly identified Victor Ubogu as a culprit in a big fight but managed to ignore numerous better qualified pugilists from the Sharks team to give Alex Sanderson a 10-minute break.

Frustrating for the players and the crowd as it was, Bath will be more than satisfied that they have put more pressure on title rivals Northampton and Leicester, both of whom they still have to meet.

But they will have to play better than this if they are to upset those two. Bath did try and play the free-flowing game that has been so effective in recent victories but Sale defended well and a wet pitch hindered the home side's handling and running.

Give them a hard pitch and the sun on their backs and they can beat anybody. A muddy scrap, though, reduces the effectiveness of their backs. No doubt the players and fans will be keeping a close watch on the weather forecasts during the next few weeks.

Two tries by Martin Haag at the beginning and end of the second half, alongside a Kevin Maggs score in the first half, secured the home victory and cheered the crowd, particularly as Haag's first score gave a glimpse of Bath at their best.

The forwards had driven Sale back and then Dan Lyle had punched over the gain line to about five metres from goal. As the Sharks scrambled back in defence, the ball was released quickly to Mike Catt, who floated a perfect mis-pass out to Haag, lurking with intent on the left wing.

Successfully converted, Bath now enjoyed a 17-point advantage, which was extended by a Jon Preston penalty before Haag added his second score in the last minute. With points difference possibly an important factor in the Bedford-Sale relegation dogfight, it was a pity for the Sharks that they conceded those seven points at the very end.

In fact they should have taken the lead in the first half when the forwards set up and then squandered a two-man overlap. They caught and drove a line-out infield to just under the posts, and importantly sucked into the maul most of the Bath defence. But they tried one time too many to drive the ball over the line and by the time it was spun out to the backs, Bath had reorganised out wide.

Little did level the scores as Bath strayed off-side and kicked another penalty in the 36th minute, but from then on the visitors were scoreless and Bath increasingly dominated the game. The season is still alive for both these teams but, as this game demonstrated, only at opposite ends of the Premiership.

Bath: M Perry; I Balshaw, K Maggs, M Tindall (P De Glanville 59), A Adebayo; M Catt (S Berne 77), J Preston (G Cooper 77); V Ubogu, M Regan (L Mears 71), J Mallett (C Horsman 68), M Haag, S Borthwick, G Thomas, D Lyle, B Clarke (capt).

Sale: J Mallinder; M Moore (P Knight 68), J Baxendell (capt), S Davidson, S Hanley; N Little, C Turvey; P Smith (P Winsanley 59), J Clark, D Theron (D Bell 59), G Manson-Bishop (A Whittle 74), M Tinnock (D Baldwin 50), A Sanderson, P Anglesea, R Appleyard.

Referee: G Ashton Jones (Royal Navy).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"