Worcester made life hard for Sale
Worcester: (3) 13
Pens: Drahm 2
Sale: (15) 25
Tries: Bell, White, Cueto
Cons: Hodgson 2
Pens: Hodgson 2
Sale survived a ferocious second-half comeback from Worcester to inflict a third straight defeat on the Warriors.
They were 8-0 up via a Charlie Hodgson penalty and Chris Bell's try before Shane Drahm got Worcester on the board.
But Jason White rumbled over for the Sharks' second and a Hodgson penalty gave them a 15-3 half-time lead.
A converted try from Aisea Havili and another Drahm penalty brought the hosts within two points but Hodgson's second penalty and a Mark Cueto try sealed it.
Victory took Sale level on points with early pace-setters Gloucester and Wasps at the top of the Premiership, at least until the leaders play this weekend.
Worcester remain at the foot of the table after a third straight loss, but they can take heart from pushing the champions all the way in an absorbing encounter.
Sale knew they were in a punishing physical battle but oozed class
at crucial times, with England wing Cueto ending the hosts' resistance by
touching down five minutes from time.
Earlier Hodgson's expertly-placed kick saw Bell react quickest to claim their opener, while a trademark charge from England prop Andrew Sheridan paved the way for White's second.
But Havili showed strength to touch down wide out and when Sale lock Chris Jones collected his second yellow card of the season for halting a Worcester attack illegally, Drahm's second penalty ensured a nervous finale.
Worcester director of rugby John Brain:
"I thought it was an improved performance on our first two games, but
ultimately wasn't good enough to get any points.
"We have performed progressively better since the first game (a 41-11 home defeat to Bristol).
"Some of the rugby we played tonight would have been good
enough to beat teams in this league."
Sale director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre:
"I am disappointed that we did not get the bonus point.
"But Worcester away on a Friday night is not an easy game, and I
thought we showed a lot of control and courage.
"It was difficult to play rugby when we conceded six successive penalties in the second half, while I don't think Chris Jones deserved his yellow card, but I am pleased with the win."
Worcester: Best; Havili, Rasmussen, Lombard, Garvey; Drahm, R Powell; Morris, C Fortey, Tuamoepeau; Gillies, Murphy; Sanderson, Harding, Hickey.
Replacements: L Fortey, Gotting, Blaze, Horstmann, M Powell, Whatling, Delport.
Sale: Robinson; Cueto, Taylor, Bell, Foden,; Hodgson, Martens; Sheridan, Bruno, Stewart; Jones, Day; White, Lund, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.
Replacements: Briggs, Turner, Cox, Tait, Wigglesworth, Larrachea, Mayor.
Referee: Martin Fox (RFU)