Points shared in nine-try thriller at Worcester
Sale came back from trailing 31-17 to gain a late draw against Worcester in a nine-try thriller at Sixways.
Worcester trailed 17-5 before scoring 26 unanswered points to lead 31-17 and then they carelessly threw away that healthy advantage.
Worcester scored five tries - Jamie Shillcock (2), Perry Humphreys, Wynand Olivier and Jonny Arr - with Ryan Lamb converting three and kicking a penalty.
Will Addison scored two for Sale, Neil Briggs and Halani Aulika one each with the better goal-kicking of AJ MacGinty crucial in securing the draw. The outside half did not miss and succeeded with four conversions and two penalties
Worcester were led by Phil Dowson, who made his 250th Premiership appearance while the impressive Peter Stringer came in at scrum half for Sale. He partnered MacGinty, who returned after a two week absence through injury.
The visitors made a dream start by taking the lead in the second minute. A poor clearance from Arr allowed Sale to launch a counter-attack, which culminated with Addison being left with an overlap to score a simple try.
MacGinty converted with a splendid touchline kick before extending Sale's advantage with a penalty as the visitors dominated the opening 15 minutes.
With their first real attack, Worcester responded with an excellent try as a sustained movement created the score for Shillcock. Lamb missed the conversion before making matters worse by gifting Sale a second try.
His telegraphed pass was easily picked off by Addison, who raced 45 metres to score with MacGinty's conversion giving Sale a 17-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The frenetic opening continued with two tries in eight minutes for Worcester. First, Arr dashed over from a five metre scrum before forward pressure and a well timed pass from Lamb saw Humphreys score the hosts' third try. Two conversions from Lamb gave his side a 19-17 lead at the end of a breathtaking first half.
Within two minutes of the restart, Sale were dealt two hammer blows. First Lamb carved their defence apart to give Olivier an easy run in for the bonus point try before visitors' full-back Byron McGuigan was yellow carded for a late challenge on Lamb as the outside half off-loaded the scoring pass.
Lamb added the conversion but then missed badly with a simple penalty attempt before Warriors scored a splendid try.
Stringer lost possession in the home 22 for Lamb and Cooper Vuna to combine and send Shillcock away on a 50 metre run to the line for a fifth try.
McGuigan returned from the sin-bin but Sale now had it all to do, as they trailed 31-17 with only 25 minutes remaining.
MacGinty reduced the arrears with his second penalty before Sale introduced Mike Phillips in place of Stringer and it paid dividends as Briggs finished off a driving line-out for their third try which MacGinty converted to set up a grandstand finish.
Lamb kicked a penalty but a try four minutes from time from Aulika, converted by MacGinty, secured Sale three points.