Sale grab points despite Drahm's heroics for plucky Worcester

Sale 24 Worcester 13
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The Independent Online

With their slender resources, Worcester could hardly afford to be without Pat Sanderson and Chris Horsman, both of whom are on international duty, but they were dealt a significant blow when their influential lock, Craig Gillies, failed to recover from a calf injury, to be replaced by Richard Blaze. Sale were strengthened by the return of Chabal plus Wales centre Mark Taylor; both missed last week's win at Leeds.

A messy start with a myriad of minor infringements benefited neither side, though Chabal was soon taking the game to Worcester. Daniel Larrechea opened the scoring with a penalty but Worcester were on equal terms thanks to a dropped goal by Shane Drahm.

If Sale held to the notion that they were going to repeat their 57-3 victory in the corresponding match last season, Worcester soon disabused them of it with some vibrantly physical rugby, until Johnny Tuamoheloa was sin-binned for a ruck offence. Until then, it appeared as if Worcester were going to turn round all square, for the Sharks rarely looked as if they could fashion a try. Larrechea had other ideas. His crossfield run just created sufficient space for Jason Robinson to jink over in the corner. Valentin Courrent, who had slotted an earlier penalty, kicked the conversion to make it 13-3 at the break.

Sale emerged as if their tea had been spiked with sleeping tablets, and Drahm crossed unopposed at the posts. Worcester were back in the game big time but Robinson crossed for a second try. Courrent could not convert, but claimed a second penalty, after Drahm's penalty made it 18-13. At 21-13 Worcester were still in it, but Robinson's drop goal finished them off.

Sale: Tries Robinson 2 Conversion Courrent Penalties Larrechea, Courent Drop goals Robinson Worcester: Try Drahm Conversion Drahm Penalty Drahm Drop goal Drahm

Sale: D Larrechea; O Ripol (B Foden, 68), M Taylor (E Taione, 58), R Todd, J Robinson (capt); V Courrent, S Martens; B Coutts (B Stewart, 40), A Titterrell (N Briggs 76), S Turner (Coutts, 68), C Day, D Schofield, J Carter (P Angleasea, 43), M Lund, S Chabal.

Worcester: N Le Roux; A Havili (J Hylton, 23), B Hinshelwood, T Lombard, T Delport; S Drahm, A Gomarsall (M Powell, 58); T Windo (capt), C Fortey, T Taumoepeau, P Murphy, R Blaze, K Horstmann (S Vaili, 58), J Taumoheloa, D Hickey.

Referee: M Fox (Leicestershire).