Bath returned to winning ways on Saturday with a convincing 31-16 Aviva Premiership victory over Sale at the Recreation Ground.
Bath returned to winning ways with a convincing 31-16 Aviva Premiership victory over Sale Sharks at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.
Bath left it late to claim the four-try bonus point as Sale continued their miserable record at the Rec.
Young centre Ben Williams came off the bench to add the crucial score two minutes from time.
Sale now have just one win in nine Aviva Premiership trips to Bath.
Bath's earlier tries had come from prop Duncan Bell, Shontayne Hape and Matt Carraro, with Olly Barkley contributing all four conversions and a penalty.
Third-placed Bath, smarting from the physical punishment dished out by Northampton last time out, persisted with Bell at tighthead after he came on as replacement at Franklin's Gardens. The only other change saw Michael Claassens recalled at scrum-half.
Tighthead Karena Wihongi returned to the Sale starting line-up along with scrum-half Dwayne Peel while Dave Seymour took over the captaincy from James Gaskell.
Bath immediately began to feel the weight and power of number eight Sisaro Koyamaibole and England prop Andrew Sheridan at close quarters, but when the ball was turned over Sale found themselves stretched by the home side's pace and invention.
When the Sharks did threaten the Bath line, left wing Tom Biggs broke spectacularly out of defence only to be denied a try by the covering Paul Williams, son of legendary All Black wing Bryan.
But the pressure was relentless and Bell crashed over from short range after 12 minutes. Barkley converted and quickly added a penalty to put the home side 10-0 ahead.
Sale lost fly-half Nick Macleod to injury but Williams stepped up to kick the resulting penalty and then was on target again from slightly longer range.
Back came Bath however as Hape cut back on Barkley's pop pass to run in from 30 metres, his centre partner adding the extra points.
It was breathtaking action, with few line-outs or scrums to give the big men a break, and Bath had to do their share of defending as Williams and Mark Cueto countered strongly from deep.
But that approach backfired when Cueto's pass was intercepted by Carraro on the stroke of half-time, leaving the Australian with an easy run to the line. Barkley's conversion gave Bath a 24-6 half-time lead.
Sale reappeared with greater urgency and a replacement number eight in Kristian Ormsby. The New Zealander ran hard and straight to set up a promising position in the Bath 22 but the defence eventually earned a relieving penalty.
Soon it was Sale who came under the cosh again, suffering at the hands of the much maligned Bath scrummage, but Biggs and Hape failed to convert a chance in the left corner and the third quarter was a shapeless affair until Williams kicked his third penalty on 57 minutes.
Bath's ambition nearly proved their undoing when Biggs was tackled into touch on his 22 and Sale attacked strongly from the line-out, further helped by a penalty taken quickly by Peel. Ormsby carried the move on but Matty James could not hold the pass under the posts.
An attacking line-out offered further hope but Bath skipper Luke Watson scragged Peel and the ball was kicked clear.
An inch-perfect punt to the corner by Barkley in the opposite corner put Bath in just as dangerous a position and although Sale earned a scrum put-in, the home eight forced the turnover. Carraro was hauled down on the other side of the field as Sale defended desperately.
Carraro led a dazzling breakout supported by Watson and the chance appeared to go begging when Nick Abendanon spilled the ball.
But Sale were guilty of a forward pass and Bath took their chance from the scrum to put Ben Williams in at the corner, Barkley converting.
There was still time for Sisaro Lewaravu to grab a consolation score, converted by Paul Williams.
Tries: Bell, Hape,Carraro,Williams
Cons: Barkley 4
For Sale Sharks:
Bath Rugby: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Shontayne Hape, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Sam Vesty, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Luke Watson (c) 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Andy Beattie, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Stuart Hooper, 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Barnes.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Mark Lilley, 19 Ben Skirving, 20 Josh Ovens, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Ben Williams, 23 Jack Cuthbert.
Sale Sharks: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Ben Cohen, 12 Kyle Tonetti, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Sisaro Koyamaibole, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Carl Fearns, 5 Wame Lewaravu, 4 Nic Rouse, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Aston Croall, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Lee Imiolek, 18 Jack Forster, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Kristian Ormsby, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Matty James, 23 Rob Miller.
Referee: JP Doyle