14-man Sale earn first away win in 14 months

The Rugby Paper - - Aviva Premiership - ■ By TOM BRADSHAW

WATCH­ING matches from nearby ho­tels must be mak­ing sat­is­fy­ing view­ing for Steve Di­a­mond.

The Sale di­rec­tor of rugby may well be mid-way through a sta­dium ban, but this was a re­sult to bring a smile to the face of ev­ery­one at the Sharks.

The last time Sale won a league match on the road was at Bris­tol in Oc­to­ber 2016. So there was no short­age of fist-pump­ing ju­bi­la­tion from the vis­i­tors when their 14-men held on at Sixways. This was a match low on at­tack­ing qual­ity, low on spec­ta­cle, but high on cards. Sale col­lected three yel­lows – one of them turn­ing to red when By­ron McGuigan added a tip-tackle on Bryce Heem to his ear­lier de­lib­er­ate knock-on. It meant the Sharks had to play the fi­nal 14 min­utes with 14 men.

Worces­ter – so free-flow­ing and dan­ger­ous in their pre­vi­ous three Pre­mier­ship matches – were sti­fled by the line-speed of the Sharks’ de­fence. Har­ried and hus­tled, they forced things too early, squan­der­ing too much ball.

Worces­ter prop Nick Schon­ert left the field grog­gily late on, and di­rec­tor of rugby Gary Gold ad­mit­ted that a num­ber of his play­ers were “bro­ken” fol­low­ing their ex­er­tions over the past month.

“We will rest a num­ber of play­ers (in Europe) next week be­cause some of them are bro­ken. Sam Lewis has a bro­ken nose, Fran­cois Hougaard had a bad knock to his knee but man­aged to carry on, Schon­ert looks like he is in a bit of trou­ble.

“The loss is down to our poor de­ci­sion-mak­ing when we had the ball. I’m bit­terly dis­ap­pointed that we didn’t win when we had the chance to.

“Sale were de­fen­sively very good. They were phys­i­cal in the tackle and, by and large, we lost the col­li­sions. We didn’t have the plat­form that we had in pre­vi­ous weeks.”

War­riors had scored 24 tries in their last five games, but de­spite the oc­ca­sional flour­ish from their back three they were suc­cess­fully con­tained by Sale.

Di­a­mond will have been pleased by the mus­cu­lar dis­play on de­but of cen­tre Ro­han van Rens­burg, who scored the game’s open­ing try and played ag­gres­sively and as­tutely.

The South African cap­i­talised on a rash off-load by Alafoti Faosiliva – by no means the only Worces­ter player to ac­cu­mu­late han­dling er­rors dur­ing the match – to score early on.

AJ MacGinty and Chris Pen­nell ex­changed penal­ties, and when McGuigan col­lected his first yel­low Worces­ter im­me­di­ately took ad­van­tage when a neat kick by Pen­nell sat up per­fectly for Josh Adams to score.

But the War­riors con­tin­ued to be waste­ful with the ball and com­mit too many er­rors, and an­other penalty by MacGinty on the stroke of half time gave Sale a 11-8 ad­van­tage at the break.

Sharks scrum-half Faf de Klerk was sin-binned early in the sec­ond half for an­other de­lib­er­ate knockon. Worces­ter turned down a num­ber of kick­able penalty at­tempts to go for driv­ing mauls, all of which came to noth­ing, but Pen­nell did draw things level from the kick­ing tee just be­fore de Klerk’s re­turn.

McGuigan’s sec­ond yel­low en­abled Pen­nell to kick Worces­ter into the lead for the first time in the match, and with a man ad­van­tage the game was there for the tak­ing.

But Sale never looked like re­lent­ing and re­place­ment cen­tre Mark Jen­nings’ ex­cel­lent fin­ish in the cor­ner, su­perbly con­verted by MacGinty, gave Sale a win that they on bal­ance de­served.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Match-win­ner: Mark Jen­nings scores Sale’s sec­ond try

Ris­ing star: Josh Adams cel­e­brates scor­ing Worces­ter’s try

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