Sale set tone on day of close finishes in LV= Cup

Sale Sharks' Phil Mackenzie crashes into Tom Howe of Wasps, Sale Sharks v Wasps, LV= Anglo-Welsh Cup, AJ Bell Stadium, Sale, November 1, 2014 Getty Images

Sale Sharks got their LV= Cup campaign off to an ideal start as Nick Macleod's late penalty snatched a dramatic 32-29 triumph over Wasps at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Tries from Will Rowlands and Will Helu (two) gave Wasps a 19-17 advantage at the interval, with Sale responding through touchdowns from Alberto de Marchi and Josh Beaumont, as well as Joe Ford's penalty.

The Sharks went ahead in the second period through Viliami Fihaki and Charlie Ingall scores before the visitors levelled matters courtesy of an Ed Jackson try and Alex Lozowski's three-pointer, but Macleod was on target in the 77th minute to give the hosts the victory.

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond admitted it took stern words from Dan Braid at half-time to spark the Sharks into life. "We physically weren't in it in the first half, we were soft," he said. "Dan Braid did the team-talk at half-time, we, the coaches, didn't go in and it was down to Dan to sort that physicality side of things out, but it got progressively better."

Academy flanker Max Northcote-Green scored two tries on his debut as Bath brushed aside an experimental London Welsh side.

Gavin Henson converted three of his side's seven tries and kicked two penalties in a 47-7 success.

It was very much back to 'bread and butter' rugby for Bath after the visit from the aristocrats of Toulouse and the circus surrounding Sam Burgess's arrival in midweek - but more than 13,000 again crammed into the Recreation Ground in perfect autumn weather. Ollie Woodburn, Matt Banahan, Richard Lane and Marcus Garratt all touched down for Bath, who were also awarded a first-half penalty try in the rout.

Forwards coach Toby Booth said: "We can be very proud of the performance because we were pretty dominant from the outset. We spoke beforehand about the fundamentals of the game. We were very solid up front but we knew that we had to get a grip of the game before we could kick on.

"From a statistical point of view too, we have ended that run of three losses."

A last-minute penalty try converted by fly-half Ceri Sweeney saw holders Exeter Chiefs snatch a 28-27 victory over West Country rivals Gloucester in a match at Sandy Park that was littered with penalties.

With less than three minutes remaining Exeter were causing Gloucester problems in the scrum and at the third reset referee Simon Harding awarded the Chiefs a penalty try. Sweeney's conversion gave Exeter victory.

Aled Thomas did have an opportunity to snatch the game but his penalty attempt from just inside the Chiefs half, close to the left touchline, hit the far upright.

Chiefs skills coach Ricky Pellow said: "It was really pleasing to get the win with the penalty try - but we are not going to run away from the fact that the first half wasn't where we want to be.

"Individually and collectively we were just off it and to be fair to Gloucester they came at us and outworked us. We reset at half-time, talked about what was going to get us back in the game and what we needed to do.

"We've been on the end of those results where we have lost with the last play of the game. The guys defended really well and got us in a strong position to finish it off. We weren't on our game in the first half at the set piece so to finish it off that way was really pleasing."

Leicester Tigers kicked off their campaign with a hard-fought 17-16 victory over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.

The Tigers were second best in terms of territory and possession for much of the match, but they took their chances to secure the win. Miles Benjamin and Robert Barbieri scored their two tries, with Tommy Bell converting both and kicking a penalty.

Irish will wonder how they lost, such was their superiority, but they lacked the control to break down a stubborn Leicester defence. It was not until the 75th minute that they scored their only try through Guy Armitage, and had to rely on three penalties and a conversion from Myles Dorrian for the rest of their points.

Northampton Saints kept Newcastle Falcons at bay at Franklin's Gardens as they pulled away to win 37-23.

Tom Collins crossed for a try in each half while scores from Teimana Harrison and Mike Haywood in the space of three minutes in the first period swung the match decisively in the hosts' favour.

Tom Catterick and Juan Pablo Socino touched down for the Falcons but Howard Packman's late try as time expired sealed the win after Will Hooley's penalty on 75 minutes put the outcome beyond doubt. Hooley also landed three conversions as well as a first-half penalty.

Saints attack coach Alex King praised the new-look squad, which had several players on debut. He said: "Fourteen of the 23 guys in today's squad came out of the academy. The points were scored pretty much by all the academy players.

"All these guys have grown up together, they live in the same houses, they know each other inside out and they're mates."