Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond admitted his side took a huge step toward survival after their close victory over Bath at the Salford City Stadium.
Replacement Tom Brady gave Diamond’s men a vital win nine minutes from time – his try giving the Sharks a 14-13 victory over fifth-placed Bath.
And after witnessing the Sharks hold on to put clear daylight between themselves and bottom-placed London Welsh, Diamond was in a buoyant mood.
“It is big for us because it takes us six points free overnight, so we are pleased,” he said.
“It was a good, hard game of rugby – it was always going to be a cold winter’s night and that is how we like it.
“The wind and conditions were all over the shop but we won it fair and square – there wasn’t much rugby played out there but Tom Brady came on and scored a good try.”
Playing in arctic conditions which almost saw the abandonment of the match, Sale notched the evening’s first points with a 21st minute penalty from Nick Macleod.
However, Bath pegged their hosts back 15 minutes later with a penalty from fly-half Tom Heathcote yet found themselves behind again after another Macleod penalty minutes later.
And three minutes before the break MacLeod launched another penalty over the posts, giving Sale a 9-3 lead at half-time.
The visitors roared out of the blocks in the second half, scoring the games’ first try on 53 minutes after winger Horacio Aguila crossed the whitewash on 53 minutes – Heathcote converted.
But Sale took back the lead nine minutes before the end as Tom Brady raced into the corner to dive over the line, yet Macleod failed to add the extras.
And though Bath managed a consolation penalty with 76 minutes played, Sale held on to avoid back to back Aviva Premiership defeats, to the delight of Diamond.
“We are not out of the mire by any stretch of the imagination but it was a big step for us,” he said.
“There has been a lot of investment in the club and in the last three months we’ve started to show what a competitive team we are.
“We have got a brilliant facility here and a fantastic training ground but we are still in the bottom two, and we don’t want to be there. We want to be competing for the top four spaces.
“What happened to London Welsh is nothing to do with us and so we just try and win our games and we managed to do that against Bath so we are very happy.”
The Sharks will now travel to the Madejski Stadium on March 31 to face relegation rivals London Irish knowing that a potential victory could see them take a great leap toward safety.
Image courtesy of Sale Sharks, via YouTube, with thanks