Sharks too good for Warriors
January 31, 2009
Sale Sharks scrum-half Dwayne Peel was called up to Wales' Six Nations squad before the game at Sixways Stadium
© Getty Images
Sale stayed hot on the heels of the Guinness Premiership leaders with victory over Worcester at Sixways today.
The early loss of the inspirational Chris Latham through injury was a huge blow for Worcester, but Sale were the better side in all departments. Charlie Hodgson, with seventeen points, Dwayne Peel, Oriol Ripol and Lee Thomas all impressed for the visitors.
Worcester were disappointing and they lacked their usual passion. Sale, surprisingly defeated 19-7 by Worcester at Edgeley Park in November, were looking for revenge. But they were without star players Andrew Sheridan, Mark Cueto and Luke McAlister.
Despite these losses Sale started the stronger, dominating the opening exchanges and taking a fourth minute lead with a simple penalty from Hodgson. Worcester hit back immediately. They gained possession from the restart and Joe Carlisle put Latham into a gap for the Australian fullback to power past two defenders for an excellent solo try.
Carlisle converted, but minutes later he failed to extend Worcester's lead when he missed a penalty. After 16 minutes, Latham had to be stretchered off with his neck in a brace after being injured in a maul.
Soon afterwards the Warriors thought they had scored as vital try but Kai Horstmann's effort was ruled out for crossing earlier in the movement. Five minutes later, Sale reduced the score to 7-6 when Hodgson kicked a penalty after Dwayne Peel had cleverly fed Sebastien Chabal who thundered into the home 22. Horstmann deliberately killed the ball and was yellow carded.
Sale then lost Chabal with a shoulder injury, but they swiftly overcame this loss scoring 10 quick points. Hodgson dropped a simple goal and then converted a try from Chris Jones who drove over from close range. Horstmann returned from the sinbin in time to see Carlisle kick a 40 metre goal to make it 16-10 to the visitors at the interval, a scoreline which was an accurate reflection of the first half.
Following the restart Carlisle was again soon in the action kicking another penalty. But a poor kick from Rico Gear surrendered possession to Sale, who took full advantage by building up a period of pressure from which Ripol scored.
Hodgson converted to give the visitors a healthy 10 point lead with half an hour to go. Six minutes later Chris Jones was helped from the field after suffering a blow to the head. He was replaced by David Tait.
Sale put the game beyond Worcester's reach when Carlisle's attempt to run from inside his own 22 saw his pass intercepted by Neil Briggs who charged over. Hodgson once again converted. With nine minutes to go Marcel Garvey finished off a splendid Worcester movement for a try which Carlisle converted from the touchline.
However it was a consolation score, for with almost the last movement of the match Chris Bell scored the final try for a bonus point which Hodgson converted.
Following the game, Worcester director of rugby Mike Ruddock revealed Latham had to go to hospital after temporarily losing the feeling in his arms and legs during a first-half incident. "Chris Latham is down the hospital at present. He is to undergo scans, because it appears to be a neck ligament problem. For a period of time, Latham lost feeling in his arms and legs - but it has returned. He is conscious, and the medical team are reasonably confident he will be ok.
"It was a great start by us, and we were looking good. But once we lost Latham, they pinned us back and realised we would struggle with our kicking game. Our kicking game did let us down, and we 'gifted' them two tries from a couple of moments of madness."
Asked about the departure of coach Clive Griffiths earlier in the week, Ruddock denied the team has been affected.
Kingsley Jones, after his first game fully in charge of Sale, said: "We were a bit rusty at times. But our set-piece was impressive, and we had 100% success rate in our line-out. We also nicked three of their line-outs - which is always good against a side like Worcester. Latham was a big loss for them, and when he went off injured we decided to kick more.
"I'm really delighted with our win - and after our poor performance in the home match, I used it as motivation in my speech to the players. They certainly 'fronted up'. On the injury front, Chris Jones seemed to be knocked out for a short period of time but seems fine now and is celebrating the win in the changing rooms.
"Sebastian Chabal has a dead arm, which occurred when he ran into two players, but there is nothing serious. Finally, Mathew Tait seemed to cramp up - so I took him off as a precaution."
Worcester: Latham, Gear, Luscombe, Rasmussen, Garvey, Carlisle, R. Powell, Mullan, Lutui, Tuamoepeau, Rawlinson, Bowley, Talei, Sanderson, Horstmann.
Replacements: Crichton for Latham (16), M. Powell for R. Powell (65), Morris for Mullan (72), Fortey for Lutui (69), Gillies for Bowley (52), T. Wood for Talei (72). Not Used: Fellows.
Sin Bin: Horstmann (21).
Sale: McLeod, Bell, M. Tait, Thomas, Ripol, Hodgson, Peel, Faure, Bruno, Roberts, Chabal, Schofield, C. Jones, Briggs, Fernandez Lobbe.
Replacements: Keil for M. Tait (61), Wigglesworth for Peel (65), Turner for Faure (65), M. Jones for Bruno (56), White for Chabal (27), D. Tait for C. Jones (57). Not Used: Kuadey.
Ref: Rob Debney (Leicestershire).