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Van der Merwe and Shillcock both shine as Worcester upset Sale

By PA
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Duhan van der Merwe and Jamie Shillcock scored a brace of tries apiece as Worcester claimed a 27-14 Gallagher Premiership victory over Sale at Sixways Stadium. Warriors were 14-0 up after twelve minutes after both men scored a converted try, with Guss Warr scoring for Sale later on in the half.

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And they repeated the trick, sandwiching a second Sale try from Curtis Langdon, and that proved enough to seal a much-needed bonus-point victory for Worcester. Heavy losses to Exeter, Leicester and Northampton in their past three matches left Warriors eleventh in the Premiership table after just one victory all season and five straight losses.

Sale were just eighth but would have expected to add to their two wins so far this campaign based on their recent form. Warriors were dealt a blow before kick-off, with Ethan Waller stepping in for Rory Sutherland after the latter failed a fitness test. Yet they started perfectly with Shillcock breaking through the Sale defence following superb build-up play to score the first try just seven minutes in.

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After Fin Smith’s conversion, it took them only two minutes to score a second with Scotland and Lions winger van der Merwe sprinting from 25 metres out down the sideline. Smith again added extras to hand Warriors a 14-0 lead in only twelve minutes, though Sale began to respond and nearly scored only to come up against some strong defending three metres out.

It did not take long for them to breakthrough, however, Warr darting through after a scrum six metres out before Robert du Preez’s successful conversion. In an open contest, Smith built a ten-point lead for the hosts after a 28th-minute penalty, with Sale narrowly missing out on a second try with a costly knock-on when attacking at the end of the first half.

Another opportunity was missed early in the second half, with a du Preez penalty smacking the post and cleared away. After that, it was the Warriors who had the best of the action, though there were no real opportunities for either team until van der Merwe struck once again.

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The Scotland international received the ball around 30 metres out and superbly fended off a handful of Sale defenders to score his second try of the day. There were signs of a potential comeback for Sale when replacement Langdon scored their second try in the 63rd minute through a driving maul, AJ MacGinty adding the conversion.

But any hopes of a comeback were ended by Shillcock, whose 68th-minute sprint over the try line handed Worcester a 13-point lead which was not touched thanks to some stoic defending in the closing stages.

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