Sale Sharks moved six points clear of bottom-placed Aviva Premiership side London Welsh with a nail-biting 14-13 win over Bath on Friday.
Sale moved six points clear of bottom-placed Aviva Premiership side London Welsh with a nail-biting 14-13 win over Bath on Friday.
A try in the 71st minute from Mark Cueto snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for the Sharks in freezing conditions.
Both sides headed into the game on the back of defeats, with the Sharks having come unstuck at home to Harlequins and Bath suffering a loss on their travels to the same side.
An inauspicious start to the game in difficult conditions at the Salford City Stadium brought little in the way of points-scoring opportunities, and it wasn't until the 21st minute that the deadlock was broken.
Nick Macleod's penalty was enough to put Sale in front but their lead lasted just 12 minutes, as Tom Heathcote levelled things up with a three-pointer of his own.
The 3-3 scoreline probably reflected the flow of the game in the first half, but the hosts weren't content, and added two quickfire penalties just short of half-time to establish a six-point advantage.
Sale maintained their lead during the opening exchanges of the second half, until Horacio Agulla's converted try on 54 minutes, converted by Heatcote, gave Bath the lead for the first time.
Agulla's try came after a well-worked line-out and a driving maul, but, though the visitors held their hosts at bay in the period that followed, the score would not prove decisive.
Sale rallied and matched Bath in the middle and their persistence paid off as the game approached its final stages, when Cueto crashed over out wide for an unconverted try.
That made it 14-10, and, though Heathcote narrowed the deficit to a single point with a penalty on 76 minutes, Sale were able to hold on for a vital victory.
Pens: Macleod 3
Pens: Heathcote 2
Sale Sharks: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Andy Powell, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Daniel Braid, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 James Gaskell, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Al Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Kearnan Myall, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Richie Vernon.
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Mat Gilbert, 21 Michael Classens, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni.
Referee: JP Doyle