Sharks attack wounded Warriors
A review of Saturday's Amlin Challenge Cup action, including Sale Sharks' victory over Worcester Warriors.
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Former Amlin Challenge Cup champions Sale Sharks took firm control of Pool One as they made it two wins in a row with a comfortable victory over Worcester Warriors.
However, the 29-15 success at Sixways only heaped more misery on Warriors director of rugby Dean Ryan who is still awaiting a first win of the season.
A week after having a win cruelly denied them with a late penalty in Oyonnax, Worcester were undone in a first half that ended 24-3 in favour of the visitors.
With outside half Danny Cipriani pulling the strings, Sharks scored three tries in the opening half. Rob Miller burst through for the first from Cipriani's pass before the scrum claimed a penalty try and Dwayne Peel scampered over on the stroke of half-time.
The Warriors rallied in the second half and tries from Alex Grove and Mike Williams raised the possibility of a grandstand finish, but Mark Easter's bonus-point try ensured Sharks left with all the spoils.
Biarritz moved up to second in Pool One with a 26-6 win over Oyonnax but failed to pick up a bonus point.
In Pool Two, Mat Gilbert's try helped Bath maintain their winning start to the campaign with a 26-10 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons.
The replacement flanker touched down nine minutes from time to finally shrugged off a stiff challenge by the Dragons at The Rec. Rich Lane also crossed as Bath climbed to the top of Pool Two.
Dragons coach Lyn Jones was left to rue a yellow card for back-row forward Lewis Evans midway through the second half.
Evans was sin-binned on 64 minutes, handing Tom Heathcote his fourth penalty to open a nine-point lead and deny Dragons a losing point despite Toby Faletau's try.
Bath's pack then made their man advantage count when Gilbert was at the tail end of a devastating driving maul to seal the result.
Dragons remain second in Pool Two on try count, ahead of Bordeaux-Begles who picked up maximum points in their 32-20 victory in Italy over Mogliano.
In Pool Five, London Irish capitalised on Stade Francais' slip to go top of the group with a nine-try 67-7 win over Lusitanos in Portugal.
European rugby returned to Portugal for the first time in seven years and the Exiles lit up the occasion at the Estadio Nacional in Lisbon, with their try-scorers including Marland Yarde and Jimmy Stevens who claimed two each.
That moved Irish top of the pool after Stade needed a last-minute conversion by Jerome Porical to win 17-16 at minnows Cavalieri Prato.
Newcastle Falcons' stuttering start to the Amlin Challenge Cup continued with a 23-16 defeat at Brive.
Tries by Scott Lawson and Ryan Shortland in either half helped the Newcastle cause but Phil Godman missed seven points with the boot as the visitors fell short.
Newcastle secured a losing bonus point but on the back of their narrow win in Bucharest they lost top spot in Pool Three to Brive.
Former Scotland hooker Lawson handed Newcastle an ideal start when he powered over just a minute after Brive lost second-row forward Simon Pinet to a yellow card.
Brive then hit back with 10 points in the space of three minutes before half-time, all scored by Thomas Laranjeira.
The centre kicked a second penalty and converted his own try to put Brive 13-5 ahead at the break but was off-target with a drop goal early in the second half.
Ryan Shortland made him pay with Newcastle's second try but Godman failed to add the extras.
He finally found his range with a penalty to level the scores at 13-13 after 50 minutes.
The Falcons had their tails up and more pressure saw Fabien Laurent sin-binned and Godman kicked the resulting penalty.
That was cancelled out by Laranjeira after Falcons replacement Oliver Tomaszczyk became the third played to be shown a yellow card.
Man of the match Venione Voretamaya secured Brive's win with a try just moments after Godman missed a third kick.
A strong second-half showing saw London Wasps take control of Pool Four with a 26-10 win over Bayonne at Adams Park on Thursday night.
Wasps trailed 10-6 at half time after an error-ridden first 40 minutes but quickfire tries from Ed Jackson and Josh Bassett midway through the second period ensured a comfortable finish.
Andy Goode contributed 16 points with the boot through four penalties and two conversions as Wasps built on last week's record-breaking 90-17 win at Viadana.
There was further good news for the victors - England flanker James Haskell made his first appearance since knee surgery with a 20-minute stint as a replacement.
Grenoble made light work of Viadana on Friday night, winning their game 40-7 at Stade Lesdiguieres.
The French side outscored their Italian visitors.