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Worcester 17-12 Sale

Worcester (7) 17
Tries: Benjamin, penalty try
Conversions:
Goode Penalties: Goode
Sale (6) 12
Penalties: MacLeod 3
Drop Goals: MacLeod

Miles Benjamin
Miles Benjamin registered the Warriors' first try back in the top flight

Promoted Worcester marked their return to the Premiership with a deserved opening day win over Sale at Sixways.

The Warriors had to come from behind, having trailed 6-0 just before the break following an early penalty and a drop goal from Nick MacLeod.

But, in first-half stoppage time, Miles Benjamin scored in the corner and a second-half penalty try did the job.

Two more MacLeod penalties kept Sale in the hunt, but Andy Goode kicked two conversions and a penalty of his own.

Goode did miss three other penalty opportunities, but Worcester hung on to win a game that they should have won more comfortably.

Worcester handed debuts to three players, with South Africa-born Errie Claassens at full-back, Shaun Perry at scrum-half and James Percival in the second row.

Much-changed Sale had seven new faces in their starting line-up, five of them in the pack.

Moldovan prop Vadim Cobilas, hooker Joe Ward, number eight Mark Easter and locks Fraser McKenzie and Kearnan Myall all took their bow, along with centre Andrew Higgins and winger Joaquin Tuculet.

After Macleod's early penalty put the visitors ahead, Sale were dealt a blow when full-back Rob Miller was the victim of a heavy tackle, which, after lengthy treatment, caused him to be led off.

Against the run of play, after two failed Goode penalty attempts, Sale had the chance to extend their lead, only for Macleod's 45-metre touchline attempt fell narrowly short. But the Sharks stand-off was then on target with a simple drop-goal to give his side a 6-0 lead.

On the stroke of half-time, however, Worcester scored their first try back in the Premiership.

A long pass was picked up by the elusive Claassens, who evaded Joe Ward's tackle to send winger Benjamin, last season's top try scorer, over in the corner.

Goode converted with a splendid kick to give his side a deserved 7-6 interval lead beforte missing with a third penalty attempt two minutes after the restart.

But, after the visitors had been battered at a succession of five-metre scrums, conceding numerous penalties, eventually referee David Rose had no option but to award a penalty try which Goode converted.

Sale reduced the arrears when MacLeod kicked a penalty but soon afterwards missed with another which would have placed the Warriors under greater pressure going into the final quarter.

Worcester then lost Alex Grove to the sin-bin and, moments later, a late tackle gave MacLeod another chance but he again pushed his kick wide.

Those two misses proved costly when Goode extended Worcester's lead with his first penalty with eight minutes to go - and, although MacLeod did land a third kick, it was too late for the visitors.

LINE-UPS

Worcester: Claassens; Garvey, Grove, Rasmussen, Benjamin; Goode, Perry; Mullan, Shervington, Taumoepeau, Percival, Gillies, Best, Abbott, Horstmann.

Replacements: Porter, Fortey, Douglas, C Jones, Kvesic, Arr, Carlisle, Pennell.

Sale: Miller; Brady, Higgins, Addison, Tuculet; MacLeod, Peel; Imiolek, Ward, Cobilas, McKenzie, Myall, Gaskell, Seymour, Easter.

Replacements: Jones, Croall, Thomas, Holmes, Briggs, Mathie, Tonetti, Amesbury.

Referee: David Rose (RFU).

Att: 8,602



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