In the cold light of day, Sale Sharks didn't capitalise on the opportunities which were afforded to them, and left Sixways with a bonus point. Not for the first time this season, they paid the penalty for a spell before half time where they let their opponents dominate the proceedings.
Goode put the Warriors ahead with an early penalty but Sharks replied with only six minutes gone. For the second successive game, it was Mark Cueto who was the first tryscorer, collecting the ball on the 'wrong' wing -the right - after the ball had been taken up by the forwards before Johnny Leota made the crucial break through the centre.
Goode and Cipriani traded penalties after 10 and 14 minutes leaving Sharks 8-6 ahead, and the game was far from the attritional affair that many were predicting, in view of the teams' relative positions in the table. Sharks were giving their all, with Danny Cipriani introducing variety to the attacks.
Warriors seemed to wake up on the half hour, and finished the first half as the ascendant team. Inspired by scrum half Hodgson, they moved the ball all over the pitch. Matavesi couldn't quite reach Goode's diagonal grubber, but the hosts' first try came on the other side. On 31 minutes, Lemi produced an electrifying burst, leaving three white Sharks helpless in his wake. Goode converted.
The Warriors reverted to their forward game after this brief spell. Goode took a quick tap penalty 15 metres from the posts and wasn't allowed to 'go ten' before being tackled. He took the resultant second penalty from in front of the posts for a 16-8 half time scoreline.
The Sharks' scrum and lineout continued to function well, with youngsters Ross Harrison and Tommy Taylor to the fore. Cipriani slotted over a penalty on 45 minutes. Andy Powell and Richie Vernon set the tone for a concerted spell of Sharks' forward pressure, but territory didn't equate with points until just before the hour, when Harrison emerged with the ball from a Worcester lineout and started a charge. The ball made its way to the right for Nick Macleod to score a try. Cipriani was well off target in his attempt to give his side the lead from the wide conversion attempt.
Warriors produced a forward rumble which set up Goode for a 65th minute try, which he splendidly converted. He also smacked a post with a penalty effort four minutes later.
For the rest of the game, including fully five minutes of 'added' time as Warriors regularly infringed without referee Garner producing any yellow card, it was all Sale Sharks. Led by scything Gaskell runs, solid Powell charges and Willis probes, they bombarded the home line. Just about everyone on the pitch 'had a go' and the game ended with Will Addison halted in the corner by Hodgson and prevented from scoring another try.
So close, but 'no cigar', as they say.
Scoring: (Warriors first) 3-0, 3-5, 6-5, 6-8, 13-8, 16-8 (Half Time) 16-11, 16-16, 23-16
Squad: 15.Nick Macleod, 14.Tom Brady, 13.Johnny Leota, 12.Sam Tuitupou, 11.Mark Cueto, 10.Danny Cipriani, 9.Cillian Willis, 1.Ross Harrison, 2.Tommy Taylor, 3.Tony Buckley, 4.Fraser McKenzie, 5.Kearnan Myall 6.Richie Vernon, 7.David Seymour (capt.), 8.Andy Powell
Replacements: 16.Joe Ward (not used), 17.Eifion Lewis-Roberts for Buckley (57), 18.Vadim Cobilas (not used), 19.James Gaskell for Myall (57), 20.Mark Easter, 21.Nathan Fowles (both not used) , 22.Rob Miller for Cipriani (65), 23.Will Addison for Tuitupou (60)
|Worcester Warriors Score Card|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|