Sale beat Worcester to keep Bristol's slim Premiership survival hopes alive

Sale 36 Worcester 26: Sam James touched down twice during the win

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The Independent Online

Sam James touched down twice as Sale overcame Worcester 36-26 to just about keep Bristol's Aviva Premiership survival hopes alive.

James' try gave the Sharks an early advantage but Worcester responded excellently to move 14-7 ahead through Francois Hougaard and Joe Taufete'e.

Sale then hit back via their outside centre's second effort and a Mike Haley score before Byron McGuigan secured the bonus point.

Chris Pennell gave the Warriors late hope of salvaging a win and almost certainly sealing their Premiership status, but AJ MacGinty's penalty and Ben Curry's try means that the Midlanders may still have work to do with a 10-point advantage over Bristol.

Worcester had the final word through Biyi Alo but it was the hosts that went away with a deserved victory.

Gary Gold's men, fresh from a morale-boosting performance away at Wasps two weeks ago, did start brightly and almost took the lead in the opening five minutes.

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Francois Hougaard pulled one back for the visitors (Getty)

Perry Humphreys signalled their intent by breaking through some weak Sale tackling before the same man just failed to cling onto Josh Adams' poor pass with the line beckoning.

That profligacy was to prove costly as the hosts moved into the lead. The try came from a fortuitous bounce after a well-judged Mike Phillips box-kick fell kindly for Denny Solomona, and the wing fed James to touch down under the posts.

It was typically predatory from the now English-qualified back three player and another feather in the cap for potential Red Rose selection to Argentina.

Solomona has adapted well to the game since crossing codes in December and has not shown too many weaknesses in his armoury, but the ex-Castleford Tiger became the villain minutes later by unnecessarily shooting out of the line.

Humphreys was the one to benefit, breaking down the left and off-loading to Ben Te'o. The England international centre then drew the final defender and supplied the try-scoring pass to Hougaard, who did the rest.

Following Ryan Mills' conversion, which levelled matters at 7-7, the Warriors attacked again. This time they showed another side to their game, driving the Sharks backwards via the maul, and Taufete'e crossed the whitewash after the forwards' excellent work.

A 14-7 advantage was what the Warriors deserved on the basis on the first quarter but, to Sale's credit, they gradually got themselves back into the contest.

With ball in hand, they were proving to be similarly dangerous and James went over once more when he recollected his own grubber.

For the Premiership's 10th and 11th placed sides, it was an excellent first half and Haley rounded off an entertaining period by scything through the Worcester rearguard, stepping around Pennell and scoring.

The full-back then began the second half as he ended the first, latching onto a pass and causing panic in the opposition defence, but this time the visitors managed to halt the move.

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Byron McGuigan's try gave Sale the bonus point (Getty)

Back came Gold's charges and Humphreys appeared to have touched down. It was ruled out by the Television Match Official however, and, from the resultant scrum, the Sharks outfit cleared their lines.

Following that set-piece penalty, the Sharks gained in confidence and sealed the bonus-point as Josh Beaumont set-up McGuigan.

That try looked to have ended the match as a contest, but the Midlanders displayed commendable resilience and hit back.

They pressurised the Sharks and, after Halani Aulika was sin-binned for a series of team indiscretions, replacement Ryan Lamb's long, looping pass allowed Pennell to reduce the arrears.

However, it was a step too far with MacGinty and Curry taking Sale to an ultimately comfortable victory late on.

Alo did garner a try bonus-point in the last minute as Worcester moved 10 points clear of Bristol, but the West Countrymen have a chance of making it a tense final three matches on Saturday.

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