Sale 15 Worcester 22: Drahm's fancy footwork works wonders for Worcester

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The Independent Online

Worcester worked wonders to defeat Sale with a wholehearted effort to give them a 10-point lead over fellow Guinness Premiership strugglers Leeds. They owed their win to Shane Drahm and a rugged pack of forwards who played above themselves to record one of the shocks of the season so far, and only Worcester's second win of the campaign.

"Shane Drahm was fantastic for us – he deserves a lot of credit," said Worcester director of rugby Mike Ruddock. "He kicked everything and kept us ahead – he was the difference."

Sale were on something of a roll. They were unbeaten at Edgeley Park and needed a win to go up to second in the table. They began with a penalty by Charlie Hodgson and all looked well until Drahm put in an accurate cross kick for Kai Horstmann to score the only try of the game, which Drahm converted.

The Warriors' forwards had not yet tested Sale to the full. They had an eagle eye on Andrew Sheridan and the Sale back row, yet when they went for the home posts, Sale made three mistakes which led to Drahm's dropped goal. Hodgson put a similar effort across for Sale to make it 9-10, but Drahm made it 9-13 with a 40-metre penalty.

Sale won a strike against the head, but Sebastien Chabal kicked it away aimlessly and it was left to Hodgson to aim at recovery. From a scrum, they camped on the Worcester line which triggered a bout of fisticuffs at the half-time whistle.

Worcester made it 9-16 soon after the interval and Hodgson cut this by three with his third penalty. Given that Worcester were now playing into a strong wind they did well to hold on. Hodgson cut them down to a point with two penalties, and after Marcel Garvey was replaced by Chris Pennell, Drahm banged over another penalty to extend Worcester's lead again.

Lee Thomas spilled a pass when a Sale try beckoned. Drahm then scored with another penalty to make it 22-15. Sale needed a try and a conversion to snatch a draw. It proved to be beyond them.

Sale: Penalties Hodgson 4; Drop goal Hodgson. Worcester: Try Horstmann; Conversion Drahm; Penalties Drahm 4; Drop goal Drahm.

Sale: M Cueto; R Lamont, C Bell, L Thomas, O Ripol; C Hodgson, S Martens (R Wigglesworth 56); A Sheridan, S Bruno (N Riggs 64), S Turner, I Fernandez Lobbe (capt) (D Schofield 54), B Cockbain (M Lund 75), C Jones, J M Fernandes Lobbe, S Chabal.

Worcester: T Delport; M Benjamin, D Rasmussen, S Tuitupou, M Garvey (C Pennell 60-71); S Drahm, M Powell; T Windo, A Lutui (M Mullan 78), T Taumoepeau, G Rawlinson, C Gillies, T Wood (D Hickey h/t), P Sanderson (capt), K Horstmann.

Referee: W Barnes (Twickenham).

& Not so much "When Jonny Met Danny" as "Gone With the Wind." The sold-out Premiership attraction on Tyneside last night, billed in some quarters as Jonny Wilkinson v Danny Cipriani but officially known as Newcastle Falcons v London Wasps, failed to materialise as gale-force winds hit Kingston Park. With one goalpost snapped and part of the west stand roof damaged, referee Tony Spreadbury made the decision to cancel the fixture. "The main thing for me was the post snapping. If that had happened during the game I could've got hurt, never mind the players." he said.