ZACH Mercer’s late try and James Wilson’s nerveless conversion snatched a dramatic Aviva Premiership Rugby victory for Bath at home to Sale Sharks.

The hosts had trailed for much of the tospy-turvy contest at the Rec and were six points down in the final minutes before flanker Mercer struck to complete a brace of tries.

After more than 20 phases of attack, Mercer crashed over in the 78th minute to make it 32-31 to the visitors.

Versatile Kiwi Wilson, starting his first match at fly-half for Bath, then held his nerve from the tee to slot his seventh kick of the game to snatch the win for Todd Blackadder’s side.

After two early Wilson penalties, tries from Denny Solomona and Marland Yarde put Sale in control, with Faf de Klerk adding a conversion and then a penalty.

Wilson had been able to add another kick of his own before Mercer got his first try five minutes for the break, which was duly converted by the Kiwi.

De Kerlk spilt the posts either side of the break – at which Sale led 18-16 – before Josh Bayliss got the first touchdown of the second period, converted by Wilson.

The two kickers then exchanged penalties – De Klerk striking twice – before a second try for Solomona had Sale six points to the good in the closing stages.

However, the hosts galvanised themselves for one more push and Mercer and Wilson combined to snatch the victory.

Bath director of rugby Blackadder said: “We’ve been in really close games at home this season where things haven’t gone our way, but we stayed in the fight.

“The last 15 minutes of ball retention was probably the difference for us.

“I have to applaud our doggedness. We came away with a good win.

“I thought James Wilson was brilliant. He’s only had one training session for us at ten because Josh (Lewis) was always meant to start before he picked up his knock on Thursday.

“It probably showed his experience. James wasn’t overawed and he could go out there and do the job. He’s a great goal-kicker and that was probably the difference today.

“I’m just so wrapped he took his opportunity and steered us home.”