Warriors on the up after win
November 14, 2008
Worcester's Kai Horstmann is tackled by Sale's Brent Cockbain during the clash at Edgeley Park
© Getty Images
Worcester Warriors recorded a 17-9 victory over Sale Sharks in their Premiership clash at Edgeley Park in Stockport.
Netani Talei scored the only try of the game to breathe new life into Worcester's Premiership campaign and condemn Sale to their sixth defeat in their last seven matches.
The Fijian flanker, 25, crossed the line in the 52nd minute of a largely tepid encounter to edge his side 11-6 ahead and from there Mike Ruddock's men did not look back. Remarkably, Worcester have now won at Edgeley Park for three seasons in succession but the result raised serious question marks over Sale.
Their home in Stockport has become a fortress in recent seasons but they have now lost four home games in a row and looked badly bereft of ideas and inspiration throughout. Full-back Mathew Tait, back in Sale's starting line-up after being released by England, was withdrawn in the second half after struggling to impose himself on the match.
Tait was not alone in failing to play to his potential and this disjointed display against one of the Premiership's lowliest-placed teams will give Sharks director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre much food for thought. Charlie Hodgson and his opposite number Matthew Jones both claimed two penalties apiece to ensure an interval scoreline of 6-6, but there was little else to warm the cockles of the supporters in a healthy crowd of 7,602.
Jones got Worcester off the mark in the third minute with a straightforward penalty from underneath the posts but Hodgson soon looked to exert his authority on proceedings. The discarded England number 10 flighted a beautiful crossfield kick into the left corner which gave Sale the field position to force a lineout which almost reaped rich dividends.
The pressure amounted to nothing but some neat handling from Hodgson in the eighth minute saw him play the ball out to Chris Bell, though his pass to Mark Cueto was overcooked and the chance spurned. It was indicative of the opening half, as was Bell's ill-judged forward pass which denied Neil Briggs what should have been the game's opening try.
Hodgson's 13th-minute penalty got Sale off the mark and, after Jones missed his second attempt, Hodgson edged his side 6-3 ahead with another three-pointer on the half-hour mark. Jones did manage to claim his second penalty three minutes before the break but he erred again shortly after the restart from another relatively comfortable position.
However, the Warriors drove at the heart of Sale in the 52nd minute and were rewarded with a try that cut their opponents to pieces. A simple scrum was fed out wide to the left where Talei advanced forward at pace from around 20 metres out to charge through Sale's back line to touch down with ease.
Rudi Keil was culpable for Sale, having failed badly to halt Talei's progress just short of the line, but the score put Worcester in control and they did not look back thereafter. Jones could not convert the try and Hodgson's third penalty kept Sale right in contention at 9-11, and Chris Pennell and Jones both missed further penalty attempts around the hour mark.
However, Jones began to find his range and added two more penalties to take his tally to four and put Worcester home and dry.
Sale: M. Tait, Cueto, Keil, Bell, Doherty, Hodgson, Wigglesworth, O'Donnell, Briggs, Turner, Schofield, Cockbain, Ormsby, Abraham, Fearns.
Replacements: McLeod for M. Tait (72), Tuilagi for Keil (53), Gaskell for Cockbain (68), D. Tait for Ormsby (11). Not Used: M. Jones, Davies, Leck.
Worcester: Latham, Pennell, Rasmussen, Tuitupou, Benjamin, M. Jones, R. Powell, Mullan, Fortey, Tuamoepeau, Rawlinson, Gillies, Talei, Sanderson, Horstmann.
Replacements: Crichton for Tuitupou (76), M. Powell for R. Powell (49). Not Used: Horsman, Page, Bowley, Cox, Gear.
Ref: David Rose (RFU).
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
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