Bath Rugby player ratings from Sale Sharks victory - 'Worth every penny of his big salary'

Bath Rugby reached their first Gallagher Premiership final since 2015 as they rallied to beat Sale Sharks 31-23 in a tightly contested semi-final at a sold out and bouncing Recreation Ground

Bath started the brighter with tries from Ted Hill and Beno Obano, but the Sharks rallied thanks to the driving maul, delivering Ben Curry and Tommy Taylor over the line, and George Ford's boot made it 18-15 at the break, with the hosts narrowly ahead. Sale then turned the screw to take the lead as Ford slotted another penalty before a Tom O'Flaherty's try looked to be the dagger for Bath with the visitors seizing momentum. But the Blue, Black and White then rallied themselves as fly-half Finn Russell slotted another kick to retake the lead before Niall Annett's late try sealed a place in the final for Johann van Graan's side to complete a memorable turnaround since the South African's arrival.

READ MORE: Bath Rugby 31-23 Sale Sharks LIVE: Final ticket link, highlights and reaction from the semi-finals

Rugby writer Sam Jess takes a closer look at the individual performances from the Bath players...

15 Matt Gallagher - 8

In his first Premiership semi-final and his last game at the Rec, Gallagher had a fine start to proceedings before a brilliant try-saving tackle on Joe Carpenter, and then a counter ruck burst his game into life. His attacking game was rather quiet, but a lovely break from inside his own 22 helped Bath win a penalty and galvanised his side. There was no better way for Gallagher to leave the Rec than by diffusing the kicking game of the opposition, which he has made his trademark in his short but sweet time at Bath.

14 Joe Cokanasiga - 7

A first home semi-final for Cokanasiga, who has had a bright season and was tasked in the opening exchanges with chasing kicks with plenty of joy, forcing Sale into some errors. After a bright first half, he dropped a simple pass, which allowed Sale to break and score the first try of the second half. He, however, saved a 50-22 moments later before escaping the 22 with help from Matt Gallagher. This would prove a game-changing moment as his side rallied late on to seal a spot in the final.

13 Ollie Lawrence - 7

In his first taste of playoff action, Lawrence had a decent game, but his moment of the match came with a sensational tackle on Tom O'Flaherty to save a certain try. His attack work wasn't the most electric, but he was still a powerful figure denting the Shark's defence.

12 Cameron Redpath - 8

Back in a semi-final for the first time in four years, Redpath was right up for it, showing some great physicality and forcing a mistake from the visitors. His attack game was limited through no fault of his own, but in defence, Redpath was feverish, making serval key interventions, including a vital strip on Ford.

11 Will Muir - 8

The winger made a bright start to life with some neat kicks, including a beautiful 50-22 beating the covering George Ford with a wicked bounce. His work off the ball was exemplary, chasing kicks for fun and was often forcing mistakes, particularly from the restart. The Horse never stops, and a kick chase with only minutes left summed up his work rate as he pinned the Sharks back into their own 22. His work rate and determination were recognised as he was named TNTs Player of the Match.

10 Finn Russell - 8

This was the type of games Bath signed him for, Russell was a composed figure throughout the contest. A neat chip ahead in the opening exchanges showed he wasn't going to back down from the occasion. His boot kept the scoreboard ticking over throughout the contest with 16 points including a 50m penalty kick and narrowly missed drop goal from the same range, and while Sale snuffed out a few passes and attacks, he kept the visitors on their heels for the whole match. With Bath ahead with seven minutes go, Russell became an attacking threat, forcing Sale to make a mistake after mistake. Without the ball he stood up to be counted, making some big tackles and never shirting his responsibilities.

Worthy every penny of his reported healthy salary.

9 Ben Spencer - 8

Captaining the side in a semi-final for the first time, Spencer was on the money with some well-weighted box kicks. A neat pass into Russell added impetus to a Bath attack before he chipped over to find Ted Hill to the game's opening try. His slick passing game was tested by Sale's feverish breakdown pressure, but when it mattered, he had the composure that he has so often given to Bath since his arrival to the club.

1 Beno Obano - 8

A powerful unit as always, Obano gave his side some great go-forward and then some, including Bath's second try as he drove over from close range. The scrum was a mess, but Obano was getting the shove on more often than not, and his carrying continued as he helped Bath reach the final.

2 Tom Dunn - 7

Playing in his first home semi-final for his beloved city, Dunn was amongst the action straight away with some good work close to the ruck. However, a small drop inside his own half proved costly as the Sharks would eventually score their opening try. Dunn was a man on a mission and carried with some serious firepower, including forcing an error from Augustine Creevy.

3 Thomas du Toit - 7

One of the players of the season, Du Toit, had a bright game in the loose with some typical carries, and despite a few decisions going against him, he kept on going to turn the screw at the scrum.

4 Quinn Roux - 7

A decent start to the game, but like his fellow forwards, they were dominated at maul time as Sale powered over for two tries. His lineout work improved in the second half, as did his defence but he got skinned by O'Flaherty for the Sharks' third try.

5 Charlie Ewels - 8

Having captained Bath the last time they were in the playoffs back in 2020, England international Ewels is no stranger to the big occasion, but this time, he was on form with some brilliant work in the loose. The maul defence was an area of concern in the first half, but he rallied and tightened the defence up as the Sharks came up dry from the set-piece in the second half.

6 Ted Hill - 8

After an injury derailed the six months of the season, Hill has come back in recent weeks to add serious firepower, and he was showing it all again with a lovely break to set up the game's opening try, which he collected after Bath recycled possession to find Hill in the wide channels where he touched down following a cross-field kick. A small drop from a lineout, though, did deny some vital field position, but Hill was strong in the late stages as Bath rallied to seal victory.

7 Sam Underhill - 6

A menace around the field with the breakdown absolute carnage, but he was caught off his feet a few times, and George Ford punished him with ease from the kick tee. It was not his best game, but Underhill's presence was still key for Bath.

8 Alfie Barbeary - 6

As the only change to the starting lineup from the previous round, Barbeary needed a big game and made a good start with some powerful carries. His second half began with a nervy drop from an easy pass from Ben Spencer, which would cost his side as Sale earned a scrum penalty. That would be his last intervention, with Bayliss coming on.

Replacements

16 Niall Annett - 9

Supersub. Came on and added a lot of attacking work, linking play up as the game became tense and scrappy, with Annett picking up on scraps. Several times, he was at the end of mistakes from Sale. With a five-metre lineout, Annett nailed his man before dotting down from the back of a powerful surge.

17 Juan Schoeman - N/A

18 Will Stuart - 8

Came on and did his job tightening up what was an inconsistent scrum.

19 Elliott Stooke - 8

Came on and added some serious physicality when his side needed it most. Add some good linking play when the game became scrappy, and Stooke had a memorable outing.

20 Josh Bayliss - 5

With the game becoming looser and looser, Bayliss added some nice interplay but good dominated physically by the fired up Sale forwards.

21 Louis Schreuder - N/A

22 Orlando Bailey - N/A

23 Miles Reid - 7

On with his side trailing, Reid added some energy for Bath when Sale looked likely to kick on but the flanker used his skills to turn the game towards the hosts.