Sharks edge out Warriors
February 10, 2012
Macleod boots Sharks to victory over Warriors%]
Nick Macleod kicked five penalties as Andrew Sheridan's first game of the season resulted in a 15-12 victory for Sale over Worcester in the Aviva Premiership.
In a first half dominated by the boot, Worcester deservedly led 9-6 at the break thanks to three Andy Goode penalties compared to Macleod's two. Although substitute Danny Gray kicked a fourth penalty for the Warriors, three more Macleod three-pointers saw the Sharks emerge victorious with Toulon-bound Sheridan played the whole 80 minutes.
The result moved Sale up to fifth place while Worcester failed in their attempt to gain three successive victories. It was Sale who started the brighter despite an error-ridden opening, and from a breakdown infringement Macleod kicked a 45-metre penalty.
Worcester prop Matt Mullan signed a new contract yesterday, but against the gargantuan Sheridan, Marc Jones and Tony Buckley, it was the hosts who gained the early initiative in the scrum. And from a set-piece indiscretion, Sale's fly-half added another three-pointer. However, his opposite number converted one of his own as the Sharks led 6-3.
But in the 14th minute, England international Hendre Fourie injured a shoulder and that seemed to affect the hosts' early momentum. And despite their early struggles, the impressive Mullan and Tevita Taumoepeau gradually began to assert their dominance for the visitors.
Goode rewarded their forward power by kicking successive three-pointers as the Warriors took the lead for the first time, before the stand-off pulled his hamstring after chasing his own kick through. The former England player battled through the pain until half-time, but was eventually replaced by Danny Gray at half-time.
Sale's Johnny Leota is stopped by two Worcester defenders © Getty Images
After a lacklustre opening period, the match was suddenly sparked into life by a scything break from Sale winger Tom Brady, but the move was ended by a Richie Vernon knock-on in the opposition 22. And Sale were rewarded for their early second half ambition when they levelled the scores through the boot of Macleod.
With Goode off, the Sharks started to dominate proceedings and flanker Dave Seymour nearly latched on to Shaun Perry's charge-down kick. It was an incident which summed up an atrocious game of rugby. But the mistake-riddled encounter was not to end there when Johnny Leota's dreadful pass allowed Worcester to build pressure which eventually led to a Gray penalty.
Macleod responded almost immediately with one of his own after Brady had instigated another attack with a fine break before he kicked the winning penalty four minutes from time. Worcester pressed late on but Gray's drop goal attempt was charged down, although they did earn a deserved losing bonus-point.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland