Premiership: Worcester 27-14 Sale – two tries for Duhan van der Merwe in Warriors win

Scotland and Lions wing Duhan Van der Merwe's first try for Worcester came on his fourth appearance
Scotland and Lions wing Duhan van der Merwe’s first try for Worcester came on his fourth appearance
Worcester (17) 27
Tries: Shillcock 2, Van der Merwe 2 Cons: Smith 2 Pen: Smith
Sale (7) 14
Tries: Warr, Langdon Cons: R du Preez, MacGinty

Worcester Warriors put their recent run of miserable form behind them as they outplayed Sale Sharks at Sixways.

Scotland and Lions winger Duhan van der Merwe and full-back Jamie Shillcock each scored two tries as Warriors ended their five-match losing streak.

After conceding 156 points in three games, the return of England internationals Ted Hill and Ollie Lawrence proved crucial.

Sale’s two tries came from scrum-half Gus Warr and forward Curtis Langdon.

For replacement hooker Langdon, it was a second try in successive games, but it could not prevent Warriors earning their second bonus-point win of the season and first Premiership victory since beating London Irish on the opening weekend.

Warriors, still without injured first-choice half-back pair Owen Williams and Willi Heinz, who, like Lawrence was a late withdrawal from last Friday’s 66-10 Premiership defeat at Northampton – a Worcester Premiership record for points conceded in a game and only a point shy of equalling their record loss.

They then lost prop Rory Sutherland, who failed a late fitness test after reporting back from two days’ international duty training with Scotland this week, and was replaced by Ethan Waller.

But skipper Hill was crucially back from a three-game ban at flanker and centre Lawrence made a rapid return from a calf injury to help Warriors stem the flow of conceding 23 tries in three games.

And, with a far lower penalty county, having taken clear heed of head coach Jonathan Thomas’s insistence that they get back to basics, Warriors were deserved victors, having now doubled last season’s win count in the space of one afternoon.

Warriors were 14-0 up inside 12 minutes when Shillcock burst through and Van der Merwe galloped over in the left corner from 25 metres out.

Both tries were converted by Fin Smith, who also added a first-half penalty after Warr had darted over from a scrum, converted by Rob du Preez.

Aside from another Du Preez penalty which struck an upright, there were no more scoring opportunities until Van der Merwe struck again, fending off all assailants with his power and pace from 30 metres out.

AJ MacGinty kicked the goal when Langdon crossed from a driving maul to get Sale back almost within range at 22-14. But the door was closed by Shillcock 12 minutes from time with a sprint to the line.

Sale, who did the double over Worcester last season, were again without Faf de Klerk and Raffi Quirke and made eight changes from last Saturday’s 11-9 loss at Leicester.

But they themselves have now won only once since the opening weekend of the season, when they beat champions Harlequins 28-22 on 15 October – and they have not won now in four Premiership away games.

Sale are back in action at home to Northampton next Saturday, when Worcester go to Bristol.

Worcester head coach Jonathan Thomas told BBC Hereford & Worcester:

“The biggest thing is that we haven’t been executing the basics. We didn’t do too much tactically or technically this week, we just talked about soul, spirit and bringing some great positive energy.

“There were some huge defensive performances throughout the team. We’re a big physical team and our defence was just outstanding.

“It doesn’t matter how good a player you are, it takes time to settle in and Duhan van der Merwe is a few games into being at a new club. But he showed he was a world-class player.

“And Jamie Shillcock had a huge game. He was there in some of the most decisive moments.”

Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson:

“It’s obviously very disappointing. We had some opportunities but weren’t always clinical enough and we have to give credit to Worcester.

“They defended incredibly well and we couldn’t break through them at times. It was a big performance from them.

“The season hasn’t gone the way we wanted it but there’s still positives. We’ve had two wins and have played well in patches.

“We will need a big response when we play next but I fully believe we are more than capable of that – anyone can beat anyone in this league.”

Worcester: Shillcock; Heward, Lawrence, Venter, van der Merwe; Smith, Chudley; Waller, Baldwin, Judge, Garvey, G Kitchener, Hatherell, Hill (capt), Vailanu.

Replacements: Annett, Thomas, Tyack, A Kitchener, Lewis, Simpson, Searle, Beck.

Sin-bin: Heward (78).

Sale: L James; Solomona, S James, Van Rensburg, Yarde; R du Preez, Warr; Rodd, Taylor, Oosthuizen, J-P du Preez, de Jager (capt), Wiese, B Curry, D du Preez.

Replacements: Langdon, McIntyre, Schonert, Ross, Nield, N Thomas, MacGinty, Reed.

Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU).


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