Bath Rugby player ratings from Sale Sharks defeat – ‘A gutsy display’

Sale Sharks beat Bath Rugby 11-9 in Round Seven of the 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership

Friday night’s top-of-the-table contest between Sale Sharks and Bath did not live up to the pre-match anticipation.

Finn Russell’s three first-half kicks were outmatched by a try from Jonny Hill and two second-half penalties from George Ford as the hosts defeated the opposition 11–9. Despite controlling the most of the ball during the first few minutes, Sale’s lack of discipline allowed Bath to take an early lead. Two straight penalties gave the visitors good possession and an opportunity for a point, which Russell easily scored.

In the icy conditions at Salford Stadium, the match lacked energy as both teams fought for

both territory and momentum. Joe Carpenter scored the first points for the hosts after a rare trip into the 22s when he successfully caught his own kick. However, Dan du Preez’s neck roll allowed the visitors to clear their lines.

Tom De Glanville and Max Ojomoh, two academy graduates who worked well together to counter down the field and give Bath a chance for points, soon launched an attack of their own for the visitors.

Russell had the opportunity to increase his team’s advantage to six points after Ford intentionally knocked someone on.

The Sharks had lots of ball possession, but they were unable to breach the stronger Bath defense and quickly chose to

the game of kicking. Now for the George Ford spiral bombs. Ford attempted many unsuccessful spirals before landing a flawless one on Russell, which the Bath fly-half was unable to gather, allowing the formidable Sharks to launch an attack in the opposing half. The hosts booted to within five meters of the Bath line after that, rolling over the Bath pack while Jonker battled with England prop Bevan Rodd.

After that, they rolled over the West-country pack once more, this time from the lineout, and Jonny Hill collected and then broke apart the Bath team’s yellow jerseys to score the first try of the match.

Bath then managed to wrestle back momentum as Russell’s influence, if not huge, started to come apparent with a range of passes giving his side some brieth the flurries into the Sharks half.

Once again, the hosts got off to the best start, but this time they were able to grab some early points as Ford converted his opening kick to cut the deficit to one point shortly after halfway.

Ford tugged the strings as the hosts began to gather ground and momentum, looking to increase their lead, but Bath held strong, forcing a third turnover in their own end, this time from Niall Annett, who timed the breakdown perfectly.

South African With twenty-five minutes remaining, Johann van Graan then sent out his own little bomb squad, bringing on Tom Dunn, Juan Schoeman, Fergus Lee-Warner, Cameron Redpath, and captain Ben Spencer. However, this did

change the momentum when Tom Dunn’s overthrow close to his own line was intercepted by Sale’s stand-in hooker. After Bath’s teenage prop Griffin put in a hit, Si McIntyre lost the ball in the act of scoring, demonstrating the host’s persistent ineptitude in the red zone.

The hosts blasted the ball into the wide channels for fliers Reed and Roebuck to test the defenders, but the yellow wall held firm as Orlando Bailey and Cameron Redpath delivered strong hits to force errors. These moments came and went.

Ford spiraled Bath again, and this time Bailey missed a fading kick, allowing Sale to ultimately grab the lead. Following another scrum, Ford made the simplest of kicks for a two-point advantage after the Sharks were awarded a penalty.

Bath never seemed like they were going to break through the line, and they fumbled the ball twice in quick succession to give Sale the victory.

Rugby journalist Sam Jess examines each Bath Rugby player’s individual performance in further detail.

15 Tom de Glanville – 5

De Glanville struggled to win the highball matches after being absent the previous week, but they managed to make Sale miss kicks. Although there were few offensive opportunities in a closely contested game, Bath’s second penalty of the match was set up by a superb counterattack that sliced through the defending. It wasn’t all that good, though, as a careless ball ended up in the fans rather than in Gallagher’s hands, ending a rare opportunity for his team to attack. Another opportunity to score went begging after a blunder on the Shark try-line.

14 Ruaridh McConnochie – 6

In only his third start of the season, the winger put in some great early shots on opposite number Reed. McConnochie was tested under the highball but came out on top for large parts. The winger’s game was cut short for a nasty-looking injury to his shoulder as he came out second-best in a collision with Ben Curry while rucking.

13 Max Ojomoh – 6

Back in the starting lineup after a seven-minute cameo last week, the centre had limited opportunities to show his attacking game but Ojomoh did have a chance to light the game up with a great break alongside fellow Academy graduate de Glanville. The centre was strong in defence stopping the Sale attack but a late drop from a halfbreak by Redpath was the final blow for his side.

12 Will Butt – 8

In just his second Premiership start of the season, Butt was a bruising figure in the midfield. A poor kick from halfway bounced its way over the dead-ball line to stop any chance of pressure from his side. The centre made amends with a stunning turnover deep into his own-half. His next major piece of work came early in the second half as Butt made another crucial turnover as Sale attacked deep into Bath’s half. A turnover machine during his time on the pitch.

11 Matt Gallagher – 6

Onto the wing for the first time this season, Gallagher had a very quiet opening half with the ball not coming his way both in attack or in defence. Gallagher was able to see more of the action in the second half including a great take from a sliced Russell kick. Gallagher was more involved as the game went on with some key tackles but the winger never found the ball to attack from.

10 Finn Russell – 6

The fly-half started well from the boot with an early penalty after five minutes to give Bath the lead. The Scottish Star participated in every aspect of the game, even taking the lead in defensive charges that stopped the Shark attack. His hand kicking wasn’t the best because, despite trying a range of kicks, he couldn’t find any grass or bath hands. The hosts won a scrum after a Ford spiral dropped, and they used the opportunity to gain a penalty and kick into the corner for the first touchdown. Russell was able to find more time to counter the Bath attack with a combination of pop and looping passes after the team got off to a slow offensive start. Russell was never able to establish his side completely, and Bath’s attempts to clear their lines were thwarted by a few misplaced kicks.

9 Louis Schreuder – 5

Partnering with Russell for the first time, the South African struggled with his box-kicking and adding pace to the Bath attack. One of those poor box-kicks found its way into his own man giving Sale an attacking scrum just 5m out. Despite the poor kicks, Schreuder didn’t have a poor game but the difference between him and Spencer is worrying.

1 Thomas du Toit – 5

Switching to loosehead this week, Du Toit was unable to light up the game as he had done during his opening ventures in the Premiership. A late scrum penalty against him saw Ford give Sale the lead with six minutes to go.

2 Niall Annett – 6

In his third start of the season, the hooker was abrasive if not completely accurate. A promising early counterattack run was ended after Annett opted to kick ahead rather than recycle. An overthrown lineout in the Sale 22, didn’t quite go to plan as the ball managed to evade the onrushing Will Butt. Annett’s all-areas game was apparent throughout but shone as the Northern-Irish hooker made a brilliant turnover deep in his own half.

3 Johannes Jonker – 4

The prop has struggled at scrum time for much of the season and that pattern continued in the opening exchanges as Sale prop Bevan Rodd got the better of him. Two big penalties allowed the hosts into Bath’s 22 which would eventually prove vital as the hosts grabbed their first try through Hill. After a difficult evening, the prop was subbed after 46 minutes.

4 Josh McNally – 7

The lock had a physical game throughout including winning Bath’s fourth breakdown turnover in their own half.

5 GJ van Velze – 7

Captaining Bath for the first time, the South African was a menace at the dark arts particularly when his side needed it most. The lock had one of the better games in a Bath side that defended for most of the game.

6 Ewan Richards – 6

In his first start of the year, Richards showed the energy that many fans had become accustomed to before his long-term injury. A tackle moments before halftime stopped a potentially dangerous attacking opportunity. After a positive first half, the flanker had a difficult start to the second two loose carries allowed the hosts to gain the ball and begin some attacks.

7 Chris Cloete – 7

Returning from injury the South African added his energy and physicality to the Bath side. A few bright runs combined with some crucial tackles meant Sale never got going in attack. A key figure for Bath in a gutsy display

8 Jaco Coetzee – 7

After one of his best displays last time out against Bristol, the number eight had a bright start with some big carries. After a difficult start to his Bath career, Coetzee seems to be finding his feet more and more.


16 Tom Dunn – 6

The hooker made the worst possible start to his evening off the bench as he overthrew a lineout close to his own line giving opposite number Creevy a glorious attacking opportunity. The hooker made his next few lineouts but again was limited in his involvement off the bench.

17 Juan Schoeman – 6

On his 50th Premiership appearance, Schoeman struggled to gain parity at the scrum.

18 Archie Griffin – 7

On for only his second Premiership appearance, the prop made a crucial tackle on Simon McIntyre forcing a knock-on metesr from the try line giving Bath a goal-line drop out. A bright figure and a promising prospect.

19 Fergus Lee-Warner – 6

In his last game for Bath before heading back to Australia and the Waratahs, Lee-Warner didn’t quite hit the heights expected off him with a costly spill as Bath looked to counter down the field.

20 Nahum Merigan – 6

The young back-row came on with 10 minutes to go for his first Premiership appearance of the season and was energetic with some strong hits.

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