Worcester off to Goode start with win over Sale

Worcester Warriors 17 Sale Sharks 12
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The Independent Online

Having spent a season out of the top flight, Worcester returned with a bang, or at least a pop. It might not have been that convincing a victory, but for a side who won only three of their 22 matches two seasons ago it was a welcome one.

Richard Hill's side played with familiar guts and gusto. When the fixtures arrived six weeks ago, this would have been one of the club's target games. "I'm delighted because we know it is going to be a serious challenge for us this season," said Hill. "We didn't want to wait 20 games before we got going. We felt we needed to start with a win and that's what we have done."

Sale took an early lead with a penalty from their fly-half, Nick Macleod. They were the better side. Dwayne Peel called the tune at scrum-half and Macleod directed his backs to good effect, and they should have been away by half-time. But Worcester, who were dominant in the scrum and disruptive at the breakdown, began to assert themselves and though Andy Goode missed kickable penalties, they led by a point at the interval.

Macleod had doubled Sale's lead after 37 minutes, but straight from the restart the full-back Errie Claasens broke left and fed Miles Benjamin for the try. Goode converted from the touchline.

A third penalty miss left Goode shaking his head. Thankfully for Worcester, a penalty try and a Goode conversion put further daylight between the sides and despite two penalties from Macleod, they came out on top. Goode kicked a penalty five minutes from time.

Worcester Warriors E Claasens; M Garvey, A Grove, D Rasmussen, M Benjamin; A Goode, S Perry; M Mullan, E Shervington (C Fortey, 58), T Taumoepau (B Douglas, 58), J Percival (C Jones, 68), C Gillies, N Best, K Horstmann (capt), J Abbott (M Kvesic, 68).

Sale Sharks R Miller (C Amesbury, 4); T Brady, A Higgins, L Burrell, J Tuculet; N Macleod, D Peel (S Mathie, 72); L Imiolek (A Croall, 48), J Ward (M Jones, 50), V Cobilas (H Thomas, 50), K Myall, F McKenzie, J Gaskell, M Easter, D Seymour (capt).

Referee D Rose (Warwickshire).

* Exeter shocked Leicester with a 30-28 win at Welford Road. Sereli Naqelevuki, Richard Baxter and Matt Jess scored tries for the Chiefs and Ignacio Mieres kicked 15 points. Thomas Waldrom and Niall Morris (twice) scored for Leicester, Billy Twelvetrees kicked 10 points and George Ford dropped a goal. Ford missed two late drop-goal attempts.