Worcester 33 Sale 48: Warriors lack firepower to cut down Sale

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The Independent Online

Sale made light of being without so many first-choice players, running in six tries to consolidate their position at the top of the Premiership, though they were taken all the way by a game Worcester side who deserved more and should have taken a losing bonus point, if not two, for scoring four tries. But though they hammered away at Sale's line, the Warriors were left empty-handed.

"If you don't protect your possession and are too loose with it, Sale are just the sort of side to hurt you," was the verdict of John Brain, Worcester's director of rugby. "We expected to beat Sale today and this was a missed opportunity."

Both sides played an exhilarating part in an extraordinary first half, with 50 points coming in the first 38 minutes. With a giant front-five, the Warriors certainly posed some problems for the Sharks eight. But, led by the irrepressible Sébastien Chabal, Sale first settled, then broke free. And how.

Tries flowed from Valentin Courrent, Dean Schofield and the hooker, Andy Titterrell, with Courrent converting all three, and kicking two penalties. After the break, Sale threatened to turn their superiority into an unholy rout when Sililo Martens and Oriol Ripol touched down to stretch their advantage to 41-23.

Then it was the turn of the Warriors to cut off the shackles, and Dale Rasmussen to put Nicolas le Roux across for a sumptuous try. Shane Drahm - who was to finish with 23 points - slotted the conversion, followed by his fourth penalty to haul Worcester to within shouting distance. But Robert Todd, with a transfixing show of the ball, put the returning Steve Hanley into space and the big winger galloped to the line to put Sale out of sight.

Worcester: N le Roux; A Havili, D Rasmussen, T Lombard (S Whatling, 73), M Tucker; S Drahm, A Gomarsall; T Windo (capt), C Fortey (A van Niekerk, 48), T Taumoepeau, P Murphy, C Gillies (E O'Donoghue, 67), K Horstmann, T Harding (S Vaili, 78), D Hickey (Vaili, 17-25).

Sale: J Robinson (capt; C Mayor, 62); O Ripol, M Taylor (N Wakley, 78) , R Todd, S Hanley; V Courrent, S Martens (R Wigglesworth, 73); L Faure (B Coutts, 46), A Titterrell, S Turner (B Stewart, 54), I Lobbe (C Day, 73), D Schofield, C Jones, J Carter N Bonner-Evans, 52), S Chabal.

Referee: T Spreadbury (North Somerset).

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