Sale boss Steve Diamond admitted George Ford was the difference on the day after Bath left the AJ Bell Stadium victorious.
Sale boss Steve Diamond admitted an on-song George Ford was the difference on the day after Bath left the AJ Bell Stadium victorious.
Sale completed a Premiership double over Bath last season but they won't repeat that feat this time around, in no small part due to an inspired showing from England fly-half Ford.
He kicked five penalties and two conversions without missing from the tee all afternoon, as well as laying on Semesa Rokoduguni's winning try late on with a neat piece of skill.
Anthony Watson had got Bath off to a flying start but they were pegged back by a scrappy Mark Jennings effort and Danny Cipriani's boot.
With a quarter of an hour left Sale took the lead for the first time through Mark Easter but Rokoduguni flew over late on to turn the tables once more.
And that try left Diamond to regret a forward pass just moments earlier that had denied Michael Paterson Sale's third try and could possibly have wrapped up the game for the hosts.
“Our execution and discipline let us down,” he said.
“The forward pass would have put it away and that was a game-breaker, but I think it was forward to be honest.
“I thought there was a few areas of the scrum which didn't go our way. Our execution wasn't good and Bath deserved to win today.
“They were a little bit better than us in the key areas.
“There was probably a bit of inexperience there in the last ten minutes. George Ford spotted it, created the overlap and he's a top player. That was the difference really.”
Ford was involved in a fascinating battle with fellow England fly-half Cipriani – making his 100th Aviva Premiership appearance – and generally got the better of his opposite man.
Cipriani was also flawless from the tee but with three more penalties to his name, Ford reaped the rewards at the final whistle.
However, Bath coach Toby Booth insisted his side came into the game undercooked following a stop-start pre-season – suggesting there is plenty more to come as the season progresses.
“George Ford hadn't featured much in pre-season and I think as a team we showed a bit of rustiness,” said Booth. “Not necessarily George, but as a team.
“We adapted our pre-season but there's no substitution for actual playing and we rose to the challenge today.”