Cokanasiga stikes late to deny Sale victory at rain-sodden Rec

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England wing Joe Cokanasiga struck late to secure an unlikely 7-7 draw for Bath just when it seemed Gallagher Premiership bottom club Sale would leave a rain-sodden Rec with a priceless victory.

Replacement fly-half James Wilson, signed up as injury cover only this week, converted to claim two points for Bath. Sale’s reward was to leapfrog Newcastle into 11th position in the table.

After a turgid, scoreless first half, the game had sprung to life after 49 minutes when Sale number eight Jean-Luc du Preez plunged over for a try, converted by his elder brother Rob.

Although the draw propelled Bath from 10th to sixth in the table they face the toughest of tests home and away to European champions Leinster on the next two weekends. As a dress rehearsal this sluggish performance could hardly have been less encouraging.

Bath’s stumbling progress over the first three months of the season has left them short of confidence. As if desperate to cut down on mistakes, the home side opted to play slowly, with a succession of box kicks on a wet pitch in intermittent drizzle.

They had an edge in the scrum at first and it earned them a penalty after seven minutes but Freddie Burns was wide from 45 metres.

Given another he opted for the corner and although the line-out was functioning cleanly, ball from second and third phase was too slow from the hands of Kahn Fotuali’i.

Sharks fly-half Rob du Preez then had a penalty chance at the other end, only to push the ball wide.

The crowd came to life momentarily when Cokanasiga arrowed in on a cross-kick by Wilson but the ball would not bounce kindly.

Bath had 70 per cent possession but could not make it pay. Instead it was Sale who came closest to scoring when Denny Solomona latched on to a kick by Rob du Preez but lost control of the ball as he slid over the line.

That inspired them to a much more purposeful approach in the second half and a catch-and-drive in the corner set up position for Jean-Luc du Preez’s try.

Bath initially struggled to respond as the visitors began to find space and break tackles.

Wilson was wide with a penalty chance but, just when it seemed Sale would hold out, Cooper Vuna broke free and kicked ahead for Cokanasiga to gather and touch down.

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