Sale fire a warning as Little wins battle of the boot

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The Independent Online

The rejuvenated Sale pulled off a surprise victory on Saturday defeating one of the favourites for the Zurich Premiership title, Bath, 33-32 and sent a strong message to any clubs who might have written them off as no-hopers.

The rejuvenated Sale pulled off a surprise victory on Saturday defeating one of the favourites for the Zurich Premiership title, Bath, 33-32 and sent a strong message to any clubs who might have written them off as no-hopers.

Their new owner, Brian Kennedy, can for now feel that his money has been well-spent over the summer as his new-look side answered all Bath's questions. It also gave the Wigan Warriors winger, Jason Robinson, plenty to think about as he looked on from the stands with his fellow rugby league player, Apollo Perelini. They obviously enjoyed the union show at Heywood Road but not half as much as the Sale supporters who had so much misery last season.

The lead changed hands on a regular basis with the Sale fly-half, Niki Little, and Bath's scrum-half, Jon Preston, exchanging penalties throughout the match.

Bath appeared to have the upper hand as the first half drew to a close thanks to well-taken tries from Rob Thirlby and Matt Perry but with the last touch of the half, the Sale scrum-half, Bryan Redpath, a former Scotland international, scored on his league debut to leave Sale trailing by a point.

The second half saw Sale attacking hard and Little could do nothing wrong with the boot as he edged his side into the lead. Preston kept Bath in touch but it was Steve Hanley's strong run and try which saved the day for Sale. Preston pulled Bath back to within a point of the home side but with the final touch of the game Bath's Mike Catt sent a desperate drop goal sailing off towards the corner flag.

London Irish gained revenge for their pre-season eviction from The Stoop by storming to a 22-16 victory over Harlequins. Quins had chosen to terminate their contract with Irish a year early and force them out of The Stoop but they were made to pay for that decision.

However, their director of rugby, Dick Best, claimed his side's victory was a sloppy early-season display. He warned supporters not to get carried away in the wake of their win. "Last season we failed to kill off teams when chances were presented to us and that resulted in a number of unnecessary defeats," he said.

"Our finishing needs to improve if we are to compete in this division and beat Northampton next week."

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