Dream start for Worcester
September 3, 2011
Warriors make dream return to Premiership%]
Worcester Warriors announced their return to the top flight of English rugby with a hard-fought 17-12 victory over Sale Sharks at Sixways Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Warriors struggled for the majority of the first half and were six points adrift as half-time approached, with Nick Macleod having landed a penalty and a drop goal for the visitors. However, Miles Benjamin just before the interval and Andy Goode's subsequent conversion saw the promoted side move one point clear.
They hosts extended their lead with a penalty try 11 minutes into the second half but after Macleod had reduced Sale's arrears with a penalty, Worcester were reduced to 14 when Alex Grove saw yellow shortly after the hour mark.
However, the Warriors actually managed to outscore their opponents whilst outumbered, courtesy of a penalty from Goode, and the Sharks were ultimately forced to settle for a losing bonus point secured by a late penalty from Macleod.
Sale had made an enterprising start with Will Addison making an excellent 40-metre break into the home 22. Worcester were penalised and Macleod kicked the goal to give the visitors a third-minute lead.
Almost immediately after the score, Sale were dealt a blow when Rob Miller was the victim of a heavy tackle. The fullback received lengthy treatment on the floor and, although he was able to walk unaided from the field, he was immediately substituted by Charlie Amesbury.
Grove and Goode made breaking runs for Worcester as did Dwayne Peel for their opponents but neither side were clinical enough to finish off good opportunities to pick up the first try. Another excellent break from Goode gave his side a chance but somehow Errie Claassens and Benjamin failed to take advantage and the wing was bundled into touch in goal.
Worcester's Miles Benjamin touches down for a try © Getty Images
After 24 minutes, Worcester were presented with their first goal-kicking chance but Goode fired wide from the half-way line. Minutes later, the under-pressure Sale scrum was again penalised but Goode was off target, missing a straightforward angled 30-metre kick.
The half degenerated into a ragged affair with both sides guilty of careless passing and poor ball retention resulting in needless turnovers with the consequence neither side were able to build up any momentum to their play.
Against the run of play, Sale had the chance to extend their lead but Macleod's 45-metre touchline attempt fell narrowly short. The outside half was on target with a simple drop-goal to give his side a 6-0 lead but on the stroke of half-time Worcester scored the first try of the game.
A long pass was picked up by the elusive Claassens for the full-back to evade Joe Ward's tackle and send Benjamin over in the corner for the try. Goode converted with a splendid kick to give his side a deserved 7-6 interval lead.
Two minutes after the restart, the Sale scrum was penalised once again but Goode missed his third penalty attempt. The visitors were battered at a succession of five-metre scrums, conceded numerous penalties and eventually referee David Rose had no option but to award a penalty try which Goode converted.
Sale reduced the arrears when Macleod kicked a penalty but soon afterwards missed with another which would have placed the Warriors under greater pressure going into the final quarter.
Worcester then lost Grove to the sin-bin and moments later a late tackle gave Macleod another chance but he again pushed his kick wide.
These two misses from the outside half proved costly as Goode extended the Warriors' lead with his first penalty with eight minutes to go but this was quickly nullified when Macleod responded with his third. However, Sale had left it too late to turn the game around.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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