Sale Sharks 16 Bath 9
Sale boosted their hopes of Heineken Cup qualification for next season with a hard-fought 16-9 win over Bath at Edgeley Park.
The win lifted Sale up to sixth in the table and sets up an intriguing Heineken Cup shoot-out with rivals Gloucester next weekend. In a game of fine margins it was Rob Miller's 72nd-minute try that proved the difference between two sides desperate to win. The Sale full-back hacked on a loose ball and showed great pace to beat opposite number Nick Abendanon to the touch down. Fly-half Nick Macleod added the extras. Until then all the points had come from penalties - three apiece for Macleod and Bath's Olly Barkley. Bath took the lead at the end of the first quarter when Sale's Andrew Sheridan was penalised for taking out Dave Attwood in the air in the line-out and shown the yellow card. The visitors were unable to punish Sale further, although things could have been different had Matt Banahan not suffered a 'Devon Loch' moment the night before the Grand National. Banahan caught his big toe in the Edgeley Park turf when unopposed and in the clear from an interception, much to the amusement of the home crowd that included watching England boss Stuart Lancaster. Instead it was Sale who scored next, with Macleod making it 6-3 at half-time through two penalties. Bath were heavily penalised at the breakdown in the third quarter, during which time Sale extended their lead to 9-3. Shortly afterwards Bath pulled three points back thanks to Barkley's boot, but that was as good as it got for Ian McGeechan's men whose own European hopes look all but over.