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?
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
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

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz