Aviva Premiership: Sale Sharks inflict further woes on poor travellers Bath
By Ben Hampshire. Last Updated: 10/10/13 9:57pm
Sale Sharks further dented Bath's travelling record in the Aviva Premiership with a 19-13 victory at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday night.
Bath's dismal form on the road continued as they failed to capitalise on numerous opportunities, leaving Gary Gold's side with one win from their last 13 encounters away from The Rec.
A first-half try from Andy Forsyth, combined with a fine kicking display from Danny Cipriani, was enough to see the Sharks home as they bounced back from their defeat to last season's runners-up Northampton Saints.
On a close Salford evening, it was the hosts who were first out of the blocks as Cipriani took advantage of the Sharks' territorial advances by slotting home a drop-goal on the 10-minute mark, having squandered an earlier penalty attempt.
Swift was the response from Bath however as scrum-half Peter Stringer released Semesa Rokoduguni on the blindside before the right winger left three Sharks tacklers in his wake as he crossed for the first try of the night.
George Ford was on hand to add the extras, despite seeing his first attempt on goal sail to the left, before Cipriani brought the Sharks within one point after Bath were caught offside at the breakdown.
Steve Diamond's Sharks regained momentum as the half-time siren approached with Forsyth flying over the line to complete a slick phase of team play. Cipriani enticed the Bath defence before offloading to Mark Cueto, whose perfectly timed pass allowed Forsyth to slide into the left-hand corner for his second try of the season.
Bath tried to wrestle their way back in front as Rokoduguni - who prior to Friday's encounter had already beaten 18 defenders - provided another display of pace and power, but to no avail as Cipriani dissected the uprights once again to give the Sharks a 16-10 lead at the break.
It was Cipriani who dealt the first meaningful blow of the second period as Bath's indiscipline at the ruck continued, allowing the 25-year-old to slot home a 47-metre penalty attempt to extend the hosts' lead to nine points.
With England coach Stuart Lancaster looking on, Ford's attempt to stake a claim for the international No 10 jersey stuttered as he could only land one of three penalty attempts as Bath's momentum faltered.
A change of scrum cap at half-time did nothing to disguise Michael Patterson, who was shown a yellow card by referee Andrew Small midway through the second half when he was caught kicking the ball out of the ruck.
Bath were unable to utilise their personnel advantage as a resilient Sharks began to close the door on the visitors' comeback efforts.
The Sharks defensive quality shone through late on as Bath were repelled on several occasions before the game petered out with the visitors conceding further penalties through frustration.
Victory sees the Sharks temporarily elevated to fifth in the Premiership standings with five games to play across the weekend, while a losing bonus point sees Bath retain fourth spot.
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round Five
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Exeter overpowered Gloucester to secure a comfortable 29-12 victory in their Aviva Premiership clash at Kingsholm.
Mark McCall said it was 'job done' after league leaders Saracens made it five wins from five with victory over Wasps.
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