SO FAR Worcester Warriors have proven they have what it takes to physically front up against the league’s big hitters.
But as the closing stages of their clash at Sale Sharks showed a brain is just as important as brawn when it comes to surviving in the Aviva Premiership.
With a minute remaining, Warriors looked set to hold on for a battling losing point as they trailed the hosts 20-13 at the AJ Bell Stadium.
However, instead of seeing out time Charlie Mulchrone kicked the ball away and paid the price as Tom Arscott and Danny Cipriani launched a final attack before Johnny Leota crashed over at the death.
The try, which was Sale’s fourth of the night, left Warriors empty-handed and director of rugby Dean Ryan questioning his side’s decision-making.
“We’re a little bit disappointed we couldn’t see out those last 30 seconds,” he said.
“We should have been smarter about closing the clock out and that’s just a learning curve for us.
“We did show a good image of where we are and I think we looked competitive but we have to turn that into bonus points and wins.”
Worcester were in buoyant mood after their stunning 13-12 victory over Northampton Saints. But after an early burst up field by Cooper Vuna who interested a loose pass they soon found themselves on the back foot and behind when Cipriani dived over.
The England fly half was unable to land the conversion and he missed another shot at goal after Ryan Mills closed the gap from the tee.
Just before the half hour mark, Mills dispatched a fine kick from distance to put Warriors 6-5 in front, but this lead lasted only four minutes as Dave Seymour touched down.
Cipriani once again failed to hit the target, but he made amends with a late penalty to give his side a 13-6 lead at half-time.
And that cushion was increased to 14 points moments after the break as number eight Josh Beaumont grabbed the ball from a home scrum and went over. Cipriani added the extras.
Despite the deficit, Warriors dug in and almost scored their first try of the evening when Phil Dowson was stopped short after Darren Barry drove into his opponents’ 22.
Tom Biggs also went close before Warriors, who had earlier introduced new signing Tevita Cavubati for the first time, finally got their reward as Jonny Arr danced his way to the try-line.
Ryan Lamb then converted from the tightest of angles to get Warriors a converted try away from levelling the match.
Worcester’s travelling fans sensed a comeback, but Sale had no intention of letting their lead slip and piled pressure back on the away side.
Wynand Oliver was forced to make a last-ditch tackle to deny Cipriani before the ball found its way to Leota who squeezed over the whitewash. Cipriani completed the scoring.