Adams hat-trick helps Worcester boost survival hopes with Sale scalp
The Warriors are now seven points above last-placed Newcastle in the Gallagher Premiership standings.
Josh Adams scored a hat-trick of tries as Worcester picked up a valuable five points in their battle against relegation with a convincing 39-17 win over Sale at Sixways.
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The bonus-point victory took Worcester seven points clear of bottom club Newcastle in the Gallagher Premiership, with each side having only three matches to play.
As well as Adams’ second-half treble, Chris Pennell and Sam Lewis also crossed for the Warriors with Duncan Weir contributing four conversions and two penalties.
A disappointing Sale were outfought throughout to finish pointless, which was a big blow to their hopes of earning European Champions Cup rugby next season.
Josh Beaumont and Matt Postlethwaite scored the Sharks’ tries with AJ MacGinty kicking a penalty and two conversions.
Worcester dominated the opening exchanges and were rewarded with the first try inside six minutes.
From a line-out on the visitors 22, a well-timed pass from Ethan Waller sent Lewis through a gap before the flanker raced away to score.
Weir converted before adding a simple penalty as Sale struggled to gain a foothold in the match.
It therefore came as no surprise when the Warriors extended their lead with a second try in the 17th minute.
After building a platform in the opposition 22, a burst from Adams put the Sale defence on the back foot before a strong run down the right flank from Bryce Heem created the try for Pennell.
Weir’s conversion gave Worcester a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter before Sale produced their first attack to put the home side under pressure.
Stout defence from the hosts, with key tackles from Adams and Marco Mama, kept their line intact until Beaumont broke through to score in the 28th minute.
Sale’s hopes of building on that converted try suffered a blow when Rohan Janse Van Rensburg was forced to leave the field through injury, with Cameron Redpath coming on to replace him.
Another setback soon followed with number eight Josh Strauss departing for a head injury assessment.
Strauss failed to return and seven minutes after the restart, Weir was on target with his second penalty after Sale had infringed at a scrum.
MacGinty kept Sharks in contention with a three-pointer before Worcester scored a crucial third try.
Francois Venter and Pennell both went close before the ball was recycled for Ben Te’o to provide Adams with an easy run-in.
Warriors should have sealed victory minutes later but Pennell knocked-on with the line at his mercy after good work from Heem and Venter had set up the opportunity.
It mattered little, though, as in the 62nd minute the hosts secured their bonus point when a flowing move sent Adams flying over his second try before Heem was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.
Sale took advantage when Postlethwaite charged down a clearance to score but it was too little too late, and Worcester finished on a high with Adams completing his hat-trick late on after winning the race to collect a chip through from Michael Heaney.