Sale beat winless Worcester
Sale piled more pressure on winless Worcester as they ended a two-game losing run at the AJ Bell Stadium to claim a bonus point 26-10 win in the Aviva Premiership on Friday night.
Mark Cueto, James Gaskell, captain Dan Braid and Tom Arscott were the try-scorers for Sale, with fly-half Danny Cipriani kicking three conversions after Worcester had gone ahead from the penalty tee thanks to Ignacio Mieres.
Ofa Fainga'anuku scored a consolation try for Worcester from a rolling maul, with Chris Pennell adding the conversion.
The result leaves Worcester still in search of their first league win of the season and nine points adrift of London Irish at the foot of the table, while Sale moved above Leicester and Wasps into sixth.
The first-half was a hard-fought affair and Mieres missed the chance to give Worcester an early lead after Sale were penalised for offside.
Both sides aimed to take a grip on territory with a brief aerial battle ensuing before Sale fly-half Cipriani almost unlocked Worcester's defence with a neat grubber kick which just evaded the onrushing attackers.
Tempers frayed over the try-line as the decision to award a try was turned down by TMO David Grasshoff.
Worcester, who picked up a morale-boosting win over Cardiff Blues in the LV= Cup two weeks ago, then moved into the ascendancy thanks to some good tactical kicking by Mieres. They kept hold of the ball at the line-out, eventually getting them into a kickable penalty position after hands in the ruck saw Sale concede a second shot at goal.
Mieres did not miss this time, putting Worcester 3-0 up after 17 minutes.
Worcester full-back Pennell then made a good break upfield, but a turnover ball in the Sale 22 and a quick offload from Cipriani set up a counter-attack which resulted in the first try of the game.
Centre Will Addison kicked a superb chip to the left wing and the onrushing Cueto, who raced over, with Cipriani adding the conversion.
Cipriani then missed the chance to take Sale further ahead with a simpler kick from the right but the home side were looking livelier in midfield, even if handling errors halted every attack in its tracks.
Try-scorer Cueto, who had his right thigh heavily strapped during Cipriani's missed penalty kick, left the field with seven minutes of the first half remaining and was replaced by Mark Jennings.
As the clock ticked down to half-time, Sale wing Arscott made a good covering tackle to deny Worcester a try, with the home side leading 7-3 at the break.
Sale lost prop Henry Thomas early in the second half to injury but despite this started on the front foot, with a maul going close to the Worcester line.
However, a fight broke out, causing the action to stop, and with Worcester penalised, Cipriani kicked to the corner. The Warriors escaped as the ball was trapped in the resulting maul, earning them the put-in at the scrum, and they managed to clear the ball despite a strong push by Sale.
The Sharks were over the line moments later, though, through Gaskell, who received the ball on the left wing after Cipriani offloaded it to Michael Patterson, who then worked it along the line to the number eight to cross for a try.
Cipriani added the two-point conversion as Sale moved 14-3 ahead.
Sale scored their third try in the 57th minute when flanker Braid crossed in a driving maul, Cipriani again adding the extras.
Worcester refused to lie down, though, with Fainga'anuku going over from a rolling maul and Pennell firing the conversion.
It was not enough to earn the Warriors anything from the game, but Sale did add the gloss to their win when Arscott crossed for their fourth try to seal the bonus point to boost them up the standings.
Worcester had a late try disallowed but even if they had crossed, the result was never in doubt.