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Bath 42-24: Finn Russell kicks 17 points as five-try Bath go second

Finn Russell with the ball evades a tackle from George Ford
Finn Russell's second penalty and drop goal saw Bath break the deadlock and move ahead of Sale

Gallagher Premiership

Bath: (14) 42

Tries: Gallagher, Cokanasiga 2, Dunn, Lawrence Pens: Russell 2 Cons: Russell 4 Drop-goal: Russell

Sale: (10) 24

Tries: Tuilagi, Roebuck, Dugdale Pens: Ford Cons: Ford 3

Finn Russell kicked 17 points as Bath beat Sale to move up to second in the Premiership.

The sides were tied after 60 minutes following tries from Matt Gallagher and two from Joe Cokanasiga for Bath, while Manu Tuilagi, Tom Roebuck and Sam Dugdale scored for Sale.

But a penalty and drop-goal from Russell broke the deadlock for Bath.

Tom Dunn's score sealed the bonus point before Ollie Lawrence added a fifth try as Bath moved above Saracens.

Sale remain eighth in the table and without a win in 2024, having now lost their last four Premiership games.

Bath came out flying and opened Sale up twice within the first few minutes, and although a wayward pass to Lawrence denied him a try, the second opportunity saw full-back Gallagher teed up perfectly to have a clear run.

Sale grew into the game, winning the first penalty as Ford kicked them onto the board before they took the lead - albeit for a short-lived three minutes - as Tuilagi spun out of a tackle and ran over in the corner.

Russell and Dunn then punched holes through the Sharks defence and Redpath's one-handed over the top pass saw Cokanasiga swan-dive over the try-line.

Sale's kick-chase, though, was repeatedly effective and after launching themselves up the pitch, winger Arron Reed collected a grubber from Gus Warr only to be held up following an excellent sprint back from Ben Spencer as Bath kept their slender lead at the break.

They made a disastrous start to the second half as Roebuck intercepted a Spencer pass as he took the ball from a scrum and had an easy run past Russell to the corner.

There remained little between the sides as the lead swung like a pendulum, with Ted Hill - on his return from injury after being out since October - off-loading to Cokanasiga, who scored his second to edge Bath back in front.

But when Lawrence was sent to the bin for a head-on-head collision, Sale capitalised and touched down through Dugdale from the resulting penalty to make it 24-24.

Bath refused to let the numerical disadvantage have a further impact on them. Will Muir was denied a spectacular touchdown in the corner by Sale full-back Joe Carpenter, before Russell kicked a penalty and the first drop goal of his career to open a six-point advantage.

Suddenly everything started falling Bath's way as they were restored to XV and the coaches rang the replacements and Dunn powered over from a maul to earn the crucial bonus point and all-but secure the win.

Lawrence then had the sold-out Rec crowd on their feet with five minutes left on the clock as he capped off a steady bout of Bath pressure with their fifth try.

Bath director of rugby Johann van Graan told BBC Radio Bristol:

"An all-round performance, I thought all parts of our game fired. It was a tough battle, I thought the turning point was the yellow card we managed that really well and got in front and I thought our impacts made a real difference.

"This week was all about process and we believe we followed our process and we're happy with the five points that we got and we gave them nothing.

"We've done one or two things tactically really well but all credit to the players, this was going to be a big challenge and we came through tonight.

"We haven't played together for nine weeks, everybody pitted in and a good team performance."

Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson told BBC Radio Manchester:

"We were well in it and showing some really good signs of some of the stuff we worked at and then there was a couple of small moments that seemed to de-energise us, gave them opportunity and the scoreline blew out.

"Two lost line-outs, one scrum pen, one maul pen that led to a maul try and there's the 14 points there that just took the game away from us.

"I'm really proud of a lot of the effort but it's an 80-minute game not a 60-minute game unfortunately."

Bath: Gallagher, Cokanasiga, Lawrence, Redpath, Muir, Russell, Spencer (c); Obano, Dunn, Du Toit, Roux, Ewels, Hill, Underhill, Barbeary.

Replacements: Faiva, Schoeman, Griffin, Stooke, Reid, Schreuder, Bailey, Coetzee.

Sin-bin: Ollie Lawrence (56 mins)

Sale: Carpenter, Roebuck, R. Du Preez (c), Tuilagi, Reed, Ford, Warr; Rodd, Cowan-Dickie, Harper, Wiese, Beaumont, Van Rhyn, Dugdale, J.L Du Preez.

Replacements: Taylor, McIntyre, Opoku-Fordjour, Bamber, Andrews, Quirke, James, O'Flaherty.

Sin-bin:

Referee: Adam Leal