Nick Macleod kicked five penalties as Andrew Sheridan’s first game of the season resulted in a narrow victory for Sale over Worcester in Aviva Premiership Rugby Round 14.
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 playing 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 re-injured his right 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.
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 the night. 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.