Cipriani's Sharks sink Warriors
Cipriani's Sharks sink WarriorsSHARE
Mark Cueto and Danny Cipriani inspired Sale Sharks to an impressive 26-10 bonus-point victory over Worcester Warriors.
Cueto crossed in the first half for the Sharks, extending his lead at the top of the Premiership try-scoring charts to 83.
The wing was forced off with a groin strain at half-time, but the hosts refused to let up after the break as James Gaskell, Daniel Braid and Tom Arscott all added gloss to the scoreline with tries.
Cipriani, though, added a touch of class to proceedings with his kicking and creativity – his brilliant offload for Gaskell's decisive try in particular standing out while he also added six points from the tee.
The Warriors, meanwhile, remain bottom of the table and had a solitary Ofa Fainga'anuku try to show for their efforts at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Worcester, and Ignacio Mieres, had the chance to open the scoring with a second-minute penalty but the Argentine flyhalf slipped his effort wide.
The hosts almost broke the deadlock themselves on ten minutes when Cipriani's cute chip was chased by Arscott, but James Stephenson – making his Premiership debut – did enough to prevent his opposite number from touching down.
Mieres did add three points for the visitors on 15 minutes, but moments later they were caught on the counter-attack after a sensational 60 seconds of rugby.
Cueto added another try to his collection, but his crossing in the left corner owed much to Will Addison's superb cross-field kick, and a brilliant break from Sam Tuitupou.
Before that it had looked like Warriors fullback Will Pennell had found a decisive gap in Sale's defence, but the hosts broke with devastating effect to take a 7-3 lead on 20 minutes once Cipriani added the extras.
That was as good as it got for either side for the remainder of the half, with mistakes impacting on the quality of play, as well as scoring opportunities.
Sale came out with a sense of purpose after the break, however, and spent the first six minutes camped in Worcester territory – and it paid off.
Cipriani was the architect with a brilliant offload but Braid's hands were also quick and that allowed Gaskell to touch down in the corner.
Cipriani added two points from the tee and opened up a decisive 11-point gap between the sides that the Warriors were never to make back.
That was made certain when Braid crashed over on 57 minutes after a superb driving maul from the hosts.
The flank was given the simplest of task to walk over the whitewash and put the game beyond any doubt, with Cipriani's kick making it 21-3.
But in a role reversal ten minutes later, Worcester forced their hosts back with a maul and Fainga'anuku was awarded the try – after consultation with the TMO.
Pennell's conversion reduced the deficit to 11 points but it was Sale who looked the most threatening in the closing stages – chasing the bonus point.
And with four minutes remaining they got it through Arscott, who sold a dummy before crashing over to cap a strong performance from the Sharks.
Tries: Cueto, Gaskell, Braid, Arscott
Cons: Cipriani 3
Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Will Addison, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Mark Jennings.
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 James Stephenson, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Ravai Fatiaki, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Jonathan Thomas (captain), 5 Mike Williams, 4 James Percival, 3 Rob O'Donnell, 2 Chris Brooker, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Jeremy Becasseau, 18 John Andress, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Richard de Carpentier, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Paul Warwick, 23 Josh Matavesi.
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Robin Goodliffe, Stuart Terheege
TMO: David Grashoff