Planet Rugby

Warriors on the rise

26th September 2009 17:24

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Mathew Tait tackled Worcester

Struggling: Mathew Tait gets no change from the Worcester defence

Worcester once again showed that their 'relegation candidates' pre-season tag was unmerited, with a 21-8 win over Sale on Saturday.

The previous seven meetings between the sides had all been won by the visiting team but Worcester broke that sequence with another committed defensive display that brought them a hard-earned second home win of the season.

Worcester hit Sale hard in the opening minutes of each half and used Willie Walker's kicking - three penalties, a drop goal and a conversion - to build a handy lead.

But they had to dig in to defend their advantage against some committed Sale attacking in an open and entertaining tussle.

A brilliant try from England centre Mathew Tait, who had an outstanding game, caused Worcester some late anxiety but Sale only secured the losing bonus point through a last-minute drop goal from Lee Thomas and a missed penalty by Walker with the very last kick of the game.

Worcester took the lead from their first attack of the game when clever interplay between centre Sam Tuitupou and flanker Tom Wood set up Walker for his drop goal after only 90 seconds.

Wood featured prominently again, after Nick Macleod knocked on a poor box kick from Ryan Powell, with a powerful run through the middle.

Sale managed to repel the attack but knocked on in the process and from the resulting scrum Garvey beat off a weak challenge from Chris Bell and darted between two more defenders for a superb individual score.

Walker's touchline conversion was countered by a penalty from Thomas, again deputising for the injured Charlie Hodgson at fly-half.

Bell atoned for his defensive lapse by crossing for Sale's first try after James Gaskell gathered Macleod's deft flick-pass and drew the cover defence.

But Worcester looked dangerous on the break and they should have scored a second try after Benjamin and Tuitupou attacked from deep.

Walker fumbled the scoring pass as he went over the line but he kicked the resulting penalty, which was awarded for an infringement in the build-up.

Thomas missed the chance to pull back three points when he pushed a kickable penalty wide of the target and was then penalised along with Mark Cueto for crossing in defence, which allowed Walker to stretch Worcester's lead.

Worcester began the second half as they had the first with Netani Talei and captain Pat Sanderson opening up Sale's defence with storming runs and Benjamin applying the finish with an arcing break through more flimsy tackling.

A 13-point deficit forced Sale to play catch-up but they managed to string together some decent rugby, with Tait the star of the show, although he was let down by some clumsy handling by his team-mates.

Tait decided not to trust those around him and jinked through for a brilliant try under the posts after he collected a pass from Cueto. Richard Wigglesworth, who took over the kicking duties, slotted the conversion but Sale infringed from the re-start.

Worcester, who gave away a series of penalties under mounting pressure, were awarded one themselves when Sale drifted off-side and Walker found the target with a deflection off a goalpost.

Sale battered away at Worcester's line and their pressure was eventually rewarded when Thomas slotted his drop goal with only 30 seconds remaining on the countdown clock.

But there was still time for Worcester to kick-off and for Walker to fluff the penalty that would have denied Sale their bonus point.

The scorers:

For Worcester:
Tries: Garvey, Benjamin
Con: Walker
Pens: Walker 3
Drop goals: Walker

For Sale:
Tries: Bell, Tait
Con: Wigglesworth
Pen: Thomas
Drop goal: Thomas

Worcester: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Willie Walker, 9 Ryan Powell, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Pat Sanderson (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Adam Black, 17 Chris Fortey, 18 Shaun Ruwers, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Rico Gear.

Sale Sharks: 15 Nick Macleod, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Lee Thomas, 11 Oriol Ripol, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Chris Jones, 7 David Seymour, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 Brent Cockbain, 3 Eifion Roberts, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Jack Forster, 18 Gavin Kerr, 19 Neil Briggs, 20 David Tait, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Johnny Kennedy, 23 Chris Bell

Referee: Rob Debney
Assistant referees: Andrew Pearce, Paul Dix
Assessor: Tony Spreadbury
Television match official: Matt Peters

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