WARRIORS ended a run of five straight Gallagher Premiership defeats with a 27-14 bonus point win over Sale at a packed Sixways.
Jamie Shillcock and Duhan van der Merwe, who grabbed a brace of tries apiece, were the headline acts but this was a win based on a powerful performance from the pack and outstanding contributions throughout.
Van der Merwe’s tries were his first for the club and on both occasions he showed pace and power to leave Sale tacklers trailing in his wake.
But Shillcock’s scores lost nothing in comparison as he cut through for Warriors’ opener and then powered clear to secure the bonus point 12 minutes from time.
Warriors were tested in defence by a big Sale pack but the decision to play eight hefty forwards meant that Warriors were able to match the physicality and hold their own at the set pieces and the tackle area.
Warriors also got off to the perfect start with two well-crafted tries in a three minute spell which gave them a 14 points lead after only ten minutes.
First Sale infringed under pressure after Ted Hill won an attacking lineout and Warriors capitalised when the referee played advantage as they retained possession superbly and Ollie Lawrence’s decoy run and neat pass from Fin Smith gave Shillcock the space to finish off.
Fin Smith added the conversion and Warriors scored again almost from the restart with a brilliant sweeping attack from inside their own half. Shillcock made ground, Lawrence sustained the attack then drew two defenders before delivering a perfectly-weighted pass to van der Merwe who powered over for his first try for the club.
Smith converted to make it 14-0 before Sale reduced the deficit ten minutes later when a sustained close range attack created space for scrum-half Gus Warr to nip in with Robert du Preez adding the conversion.
Smith rewarded Warriors for another spell of pressure with a 28th minute penalty and then popped up in defence to thwart Sale after Marland Yarde had hit the line at pace.
Sale ended the half battering away in Warriors’ 22 but the defence held firm under pressure and it was Sale who cracked when hooker Tommy Taylor knocked on.
Sale missed an opportunity to reduce the gap two minutes into the second half when Rob du Preez’s penalty smacked against the right post and bounced out.
Instead it was Warriors who scored next when Shillcock boshed his way out of a tackle with a hand-off and then off-loaded to van der Merwe who broke three tackles before powering over in the left corner for a try that brought the house down.
Sale responded with a close range try from Curtis Langdon which AJ MacGinty improved but Warriors’ ferocious defence denied them a further score with Sam Lewis getting an arm under the ball to deny Langdon a second try.
Shillcock again left Sale clutching at shadows as he raced clear after Francois Venter had carried strongly for a try that capped a superb individual performance from the full-back.
Warriors | 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Noah Heward, 13 Ollie Lawrence (Beck 64), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Fin Smith (Searle 74), 9 Will Chudley, 1 Ethan Waller (Thomas 57), 2 Scott Baldwin (Annett 64), 3 Christian Judge (Tyack 57), 4 Matt Garvey, 5 Graham Kitchener (Kitchener 72), 6 Kyle Hatherell (Lewis 66), 7 Ted Hill (C), 8 Sione Vailanu.
Replacements | 16 Niall Annett, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Jay Tyack, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Ashley Beck.