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Worcester Warriors hand Sale Sharks a seventh straight Aviva Premiership defeat
Sale Sharks slumped to their seventh straight Aviva Premiership defeat as Worcester Warriors battled their way to a 23-16 victory at Sixways.
Andy Goode's converted try 15 minutes from time earned Worcester just their second win of the season as despite their losing bonus point, Sale remain seven points adrift of 11th-placed London Irish.
The Warriors' former England fly-half scored 18 points, while Sale crossed twice through Mark Cueto and full-back Nick Macleod, while fly-half Danny Cipriani added two penalties.
It took the Warriors barely a minute to open their account as Goode landed a touchline penalty, but Sale's response proved swift and impressive.
From their first attack they retained possession smartly, and Cueto sliced through a gap to score in the right-hand corner, giving him his 74th Premiership try and leaving him just one behind his former team-mate Steve Hanley's all-time league record.
Cipriani missed a difficult conversion attempt, and Worcester quickly regained the lead when Goode slotted an angled penalty to make it 6-5 after nine minutes, before Cipriani's opening penalty strike restored the visitors' advantage.
Worcester struggled noticeably at the lineouts, losing four in succession on their own throw, but against the run of play seven minutes before the break David Lemi jinked his way over on an angled 30-metre run that showcased his devastating finishing ability.
Goode added the conversion before he slotted a penalty on the stroke of half-time, as a 10-point onslaught in six minutes gave Warriors a 16-8 interval advantage.
Cipriani opened the second-half scoring with another penalty and after almost constant Sale pressure Cueto delivered a scoring pass to Macleod.
Cipriani was again wide with the conversion attempt, yet Sale had tied things up at 16-16, ensuring a gripping finale which ultimately belonged to Goode, who crashed over in the corner and then converted his own try.
Sale spent the closing minutes battering away at Worcester's line, but they could not capitalise on their forwards' admirable collective effort.
It took a superb try-saving tackle from Worcester scrum-half Paul Hodgson to deny Sale substitute Will Addison in the game's last attack, with both players requiring lengthy treatment after referee Greg Garner blew the final whistle.
Addison limped away, while a similarly groggy Hodgson also returned to his feet, albeit several minutes later.
That incident summed up a game bursting with commitment from both sides, as well as Sale's frustrating season to date.
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|Friday 13th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|19:45||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Saturday 14th February|
|16:30||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|13:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|Friday 20th February|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Bath vs Northampton|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|14:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Sale|
|19:45||Northampton vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Exeter vs Bath|
|Sunday 1st March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Gloucester|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale 18 - 11 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com