Danny Cipriani justifies his inclusion to inspire Sale to vital victory

Sale 33 Worcester 27

Danny Cipriani returned to the XV to give Sale’s relegation fight a boost after they overcame Worcester to claim only their second Premiership win of the season.

The Sharks have been rooted to the foot of the table since the start of the campaign but they dug deep to claim a precious victory at Salford City Stadium. The result lifted Sale to within one point of second-bottom London Irish and encouraged hopes that survival is within their grasp.

Fly-half Cipriani was steadily influential throughout and claimed a 18-point haul after being dropped for his side’s defeat at London Wasps in their previous outing.

He kicked four penalties and converted tries from Richie Gray, James Gaskell and former England winger Mark Cueto, whose touchdown saw him draw level with former Sale team-mate Steve Hanley’s all-time Premiership try-scoring record of 75.

Worcester opened the scoring when Andy Goode converted his first penalty. He added two more to increase the visitors’ lead to 9-0 before Sale finally responded in the 21st minute as Gray touched down. Cipriani converted to cut Worcester’s lead to two points.

Worcester claimed their first try when Matt Kvesic’s offload sent fellow flanker Neil Best over the line. Goode converted to put Worcester 16-7 ahead but the visitors lost full-back Chris Pennell to the sin-bin 10 minutes before the break for holding down.

Three minutes before half-time, Cipriani and hooker Marc Jones combined to send Gaskell over.

Cipriani converted to leave the scores at 16-14 in Worcester’s favour at half-time, an advantage extended two minutes after the break when Goode kicked his fourth penalty. 

Cipriani added two penalties before his team-mate Fraser McKenzie was sin-binned and Goode grabbed three points back to edge Worcester in front. However, Sale struck a decisive blow in the 59th minute when Gray’s offload found Richie Vernon and he sent Cueto scampering over in the corner.

Cipriani landed a conversion two more penalties before a try from Kvesic  gave Worcester a losing bonus point.