Sale continued their impressive Premiership revival as they conquered the Recreation Ground with a 12-11 win over Bath on Friday.
Sale Sharks continued their excellent Aviva Premiership season as they conquered the Recreation Ground with a 12-11 win over Bath on Friday.
Superb defence, some controversial refereeing decisions and three late missed kicks by George Ford combined to hand the Sharks a fourth successive win on the road.
Steve Diamond's battlers are now within three points of fourth-placed Leicester.
The result was all the more remarkable due to the withdrawal of leading scorer Mark Cueto and skipper Dan Braid just before kick-off.
Six minutes into the match, referee Dean Richards blew for the first time when Bath prop Paul James failed to use his arms in a tackle on fellow Welshman Marc Jones and Cipriani stepped up to kick the first points of the match from in front of the posts.
George Ford levelled the scores five minutes later after Sale's well-marshalled defence was, for once, guilty of overstepping the mark and found to be offside.
Sharks' centres Sam Tuitupou and Johnny Leota combined well in midfield to set up the Sale's next opportunity, a high tackle from Matt Garvey eventually leading to another three points for the visitors.
Cipriani made it 9-3 after Sale's first-half scrum dominance was rewarded before Ford, after dynamic number eight Leroy Houston had given Bath some badly needed momentum, struck back.
The fly-half, though was unable to convert a third chance just before the break and Sale led 9-6 at half-time.
In contrast to Ford, Cipriani was on target with his first shot at goal in the second-half and Sale held a six-point lead until Ross Batty barged his way over from a line-out catch-and-drive move on 75 minutes.
Bath can count themselves unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty try before then, a 14-minute spell of scrummaging close to the Sharks' line only resulting in a yellow card to Bath-bound prop Henry Thomas.
Crucially, Ford was unable to convert Batty's try – his first in the Premiership – and Bath, trailing by a point, threw the kitchen sink at Sale as steady rain continues to fall.
Twice Ford attempted a drop-goal in the dying throes of the game, the first being charged down by replacement fly-half Nick Macleod and the second going just wide with the clock on red.
Pen: Ford 2
Pen: Cipriani 4
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Semesa Rokoduguni, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Micky Young, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Horacio Agulla.
Sale: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Andrei Ostrikov, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Aston Croall, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Jonathan Mills, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Rob Miller.
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant referees: Ashley Rowden, Kelvin Stewart
Television match official: David Grashoff
Timekeeper: Matthew Peters
Assessor: Tony Spreadbury