Bath gave a young and inexperienced Sale side an LV= Cup lesson on Saturday as they scored a five-try 40-7 victory at the Rec.
Bath gave a young and inexperienced Sale side an LV= Cup lesson on Saturday as they scored a five-try 40-7 victory at the Recreation Ground.
Springbok fly-half Butch James made an impressive first appearance in ten months as the hosts ended their tournament campaign with a runaway win.
James, who needed a knee reconstruction after being injured at Newcastle last April, had to play just the first 40 minutes to show he was back in the groove and ready to spearhead a Bath revival in the last three months of the season.
Chief beneficiary was right wing Michael Stephenson, who scored a hat-trick of tries as Bath romped into a 35-7 lead soon after half-time.
Bath's interest in the competition ended with their defeat at Leicester last weekend but Sale are also out of the running for a semi-final spot.
With James back to run the game and Nick Abendanon restored at full-back after six weeks out with a shoulder injury, Bath were quickly into their stride and scored after just 90 seconds.
Abendanon's pass sent Michael Stephenson in at the right corner and Ryan Davis converted from the touchline.
James had made an instant impact with his vision and distribution but it was half-back partner Scott Bemand who paved the way for the next score, handling three times and then winning a penalty just short of the Sale line.
Bath opted for a scrum and Davis sent Matt Carraro over at the posts before adding the conversion.
With 10 minutes gone Bath were already 14-0 ahead but they quickly added to their tally when skipper Stuart Hooper collected a line-out and the pack drove hooker Pieter Dixon over for a third try.
Davis ended a breathless first 15 minutes with another conversion.
A shell-shocked Sale finally roused themselves and number eight Kristian Ormsby drove through some weak tackling to touch down at the other end from a five-metre scrum, Atkinson adding the conversion.
But Bath scored a fourth try on the half-hour when James launched a high kick to the right touchline and Stephenson touched down again. Davis made it four out of four from the touchline to send his side in 28-7 ahead at the break.
The home side changed their entire front row at the break but it made little difference as Scott Bemand broke from a scrum and kicked to the corner for Stephenson to claim his third try. Davis again converted to put his side 35-7 ahead on 47 minutes.
James' departure took some of the sting out of the Bath attack and Sale enjoyed the majority of possession in the third quarter but without the points to show for it.
The defensive effort eventually cost Bath a yellow card as Guy Mercer was sent to the bin on 65 minutes.
With Mercer back on the field, it was Sale's turn to defend and Ben Cohen was yellow carded after illegally stopping a strong run by Johnny Fa'amatuainu.
Bath then had the last word with an unconverted try by Jack Cuthbert.
Tries: Stephenson 3, Carraro, Dixon, Cuthbert
Con: Davies 5
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Jack Cuthbert, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Ryan Davis, 11 Michael Stephenson, 10 Butch James, 9 Scott Bemand, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Daniel Browne, 5 Peter Short, 4 Stuart Hooper (capt), 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Barnes.
Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Jonny Faamatuainu, 20 Josh Ovens, 21 Mike Baxter, 22 Tom Cheeseman, 23 Joe Maddock.
Sale: 15 Marika Vakacegu, 14 Oriol Ripol, 13 Jordan Davies, 12 David Bishop, 11 Ben Cohen, 10 Mark Atkinson, 9 Chris Leck, 8 Kristian Ormsby, 7 David Seymour, 6 Carl Fearns, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Dean Schofield (capt), 3 Martin Halsall, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Gavin Kerr.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Rob O'Donnell, 18 Dan Birchall, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Ian Kench, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Alex Cheeseman, 23 David Doherty.
Referee: James Jones