Worcester fly-half Shane Drahm scored 17 points as the relegation-threatened Warriors recorded only a second GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP win of the season at the expense of high-flying Sale.
Drahm, who is off to join Japanese side Kubota Spears at the end of the season, was only recalled from a short-term loan spell at League One Launceston last weekend.
But the veteran half-back outshone England hopeful Charlie Hodgson, landing four penalties, a conversion and an expertly-taken drop goal, as Drahm’s kicking inflicted a first home loss of the season on Sale at Edgeley Park.
Sale, who had won their three previous GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP games, knew a second league win of the season against Worcester would see them leapfrog Bath and Leicester to second in the table.
But it was not to be as a strong Sale side, including England stars Andrew Sheridan, Richard Wigglesworth and Mark Cueto, failed to sparkle without their injured talisman, New Zealander Luke McAlister.
Strugglers Worcester, who last won in January against Bristol, got off to a bad start conceding an early penalty, with Sale number 10 Hodgson defying the weather to land the three points.
Hodgson, who again handed England boss Brian Ashton a timely reminder, was the catalyst for the Sharks’ next foray, taking advantage of a Sam Tuitupou error but his hack downfield bounced out.
Sale’s lead did not last long as Worcester skipper Drahm made an excellent break from his own 22, sidestepping the Sale pack and sprinting deep into enemy territory, before passing to Miles Benjamin who was smothered by Hodgson.
Worcester immediately regained possession and from a Drahm crossfield kick, wing Marcel Garvey challenged and Kai Horstmann was on hand to dive over in the corner.
The ever-reliable Hodgson reduced the deficit with another penalty kick but Drahm soon made it advantage Worcester with a drop goal.
Sale’s forwards hit back with a period of consistent pressure and with referee Wayne Barnes indicating a penalty, Hodgson took advantage to land a much-needed drop goal.
Drahm restored Worcester’s advantage with another penalty just before the break as the Warriors took control.
Early in the second half Drahm maintained his 100% kicking record with another penalty, before Hodgson kept Sale in touch with an effort of his own.
Wigglesworth’s introduction after 55 minutes received the biggest cheer of the night as the newly-appointed England star looked to inspire Sale.
The Sharks’ attack was becoming static as they battled both Worcester’s stubborn defence and the elements and they clearly missed McAlister.
Hodgson kept the scoreboard ticking with another penalty to keep them within a point of the visitors but with Drahm on form he responded with another Worcester penalty.
Wigglesworth lifted Sale as he took control and almost masterminded a try – his quick break from a scrum, saw Hodgson offload to Chris Bell but he could only knock on.
Taking his points tally to 17 for the evening – Drahm added another penalty to extend the Warriors’ lead on 76 minutes as Worcester sneaked home.