Planet Rugby

Bath too hot for Sharks

26th April 2008 14:16

Share:

michael lipman bath

Five Star: Michael Lipman crosses in the corner as Bath make it consecutive European finals

Bath's bandwagon continued to roll on two fronts as they comfortably sealed the remaining place in the European Challenge Cup final, defeating Sale 36-14 at The Rec on Saturday.

With Guinness Premiership title and play-off ambitions temporarily put on the backburner, these two in-form sides played out anything but a cagey, knockout affair in the Somerset sunshine.

In a pulsating clash, the home side ran in five electric tries to Sale's one as injuries to Charlie Hodgson, Andrew Sheridan and Ben Foden could well spell of the end their season.

New England Team Manager Martin Johnson was an interested spectator, alongside a coaching line-up including John Wells, Graham Rowntree and Mike Ford as they made their notes for the June exams.

But it was Sale's star All Black signing who came out with all guns blazing as Luke McAlister fiercely sent the returning Nick Abendanon to the floor. And then the full-back had his covering skills tested to the hilt as Richard Wigglesworth delicately dabbed into space, which led to Hodgson's opening drop-goal.

However, that only seemed to stir the home side into life as Michael Claassens charged down a Hodgson clearance to gather and cross the whitewash.

That was duly followed by a well-taken Olly Barkley penalty as Bath set about turning up the European heat.

And that they did as openside Michael Lipman capped a superb phase-ridden period by crashing over in the corner with Barkley adding the extras.

The Sharks, just three places below their hosts in the league, then turned the tide as a superb inside line from out of position Sean Cox saw him stride through a gaping hole in Bath's defence.

From there the supporting Chris Bell straightened but was just hauled down before the line with a penalty coming.

Then controversy struck at The Rec as France's only semi-final representative, referee Christophe Berdos, told home captain Steve Borthwick to talk to his side on their own try-line.

In the meantime, Hodgson spotted soon to be Saint Chris Mayor unopposed on the left flank and dropped a beautiful cross-kick onto the winger, much to the disappointment of the Bath faithful.

However, their bitten tongues felt much better when the attack-minded Bath swiftly raced downfield with Claassens and Butch James darting, before Danny Grewcock's power saw him crash over on 22 minutes.

And Barkley's extras were surprisingly the final score of the opening forty in what was a pulsating 38-point feast.

From the restart, Bath professionally applied the squeeze and dominated proceedings as they wore down a tiring Sharks outfit, whose injury woes partly hampered their European effort.

Philippe Saint-Andre duly sent on the much-needed replacements with England summer hopeful Richard Wigglesworth having to fill in on the wing for injured Spaniard Oriol Ripol.

Yet Bath failed to ease up on their wounded opponents, and a breakaway score from Andrew Higgins and a smart James grubber through to Matt Banahan sealed their May date with Worcester.

The scorers:

For Bath:

Tries: Claassens, Lipman, Grewcock, Higgins, Banahan

Con: Barkley 4

Pen: Barkley

For Sale:

Tries: Mayor

Pen: Hodgson, McAlister

Drops: Hodgson

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Andrew Higgins, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Chris Goodman, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jonny Faamatuainu, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Lee Mears, 1 David Barnes.

Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Duncan Bell, 18 Peter Short, 19 Zak Feaunati, 20 Mike Baxter, 21 Shaun Berne, 22 Tom Cheeseman.

Sale Sharks: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Mayor, 13 Chris Bell, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Oriol Ripol, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Chris Jones, 6 Sean Cox, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe (c), 3 Stuart Turner, 2 Sebastien Bruno, 1 Andrew Sheridan.

Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Eifion Roberts, 18 Lionel Faure, 19 Brent Cockbain, 20 Michael Hills, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Julien Laharrague.

Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne vs MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle vs Toulouse14:45
Castres vs Bayonne18:30
Lyon vs Brive18:30
Oyonnax vs Stade Francais18:30
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 29
Pumas vs SharksPumas vs Sharks Preview
Saturday , August 30
Griquas vs Cheetahs15:00
Blue Bulls vs Western Province17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Friday , August 29
Wellington vs ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Preview
Saturday , August 30
Counties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay14:35
Southland vs Otago17:35
North Harbour vs Waikato19:35
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs Tasman16:35
Wednesday, September 3
Manawatu vs Bay Of Plenty19:35
Thursday , September 4
Otago vs Canterbury19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle
Montpellier 20 - 17 GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Blue Bulls 30 - 25 Eastern Province KingsBlue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 27 - 14 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
Sharks 19 - 16 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Northland 35 - 5 WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Report
Counties Manukau 29 - 25 OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse 35 - 6 CastresToulouse vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00