BACK rower David Denton insists Worcester Warriors need to learn how to win “ugly” in the Aviva Premiership after receiving a reality check from Sale Sharks.

Warriors were on a high following impressive victories over Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers, racking up nine tries in the process.

But Gary Gold’s men then failed to overcome a resilient Sale side who won 18-14 at Sixways despite being down to 14 men for more than half an hour.

And Denton felt Warriors had taken a “backward step” last Friday as they missed the chance to open up a big gap between themselves and bottom club London Irish.

“Everyone is gutted,” said the 27-year-old whose side are six points clear of Irish.

“I think there was an expectation that we were going to win that game and if anything we had more to lose.

“No one expected us to beat Northampton or Leicester - but we did and it was great whereas last Friday I think a lot more people expected us to win due to the form that we were in.”

Byron McGuigan saw yellow at the end of the first half for a deliberate knock on before Faf de Klerk replaced him in the sin-bin for the same offence at the start of the second period.

Sharks then received a further blow when McGuigan was brandished a second yellow card by referee Matthew Carley for a tip-tackle on Bryce Heem with 13 minutes to go.

But Warriors could not make their numerical advantage count as Chris Pennell notched his third penalty of the evening before Mark Jennings scored the match-winning try.

“A team going down to 14 men doesn’t win you the match,” Denton said.

“You need to build eight or nine phases and that’s where the extra man advantage starts to help.

“But we didn’t do that.

“What Sale brought was a lot of line speed and that got us on the back foot.

“I guess in the last few weeks we have been used to playing front foot rugby.

“We have been playing some great rugby but we need to be able to win some of these ugly games.”

Warriors lost several line-outs against Sale including one at the death when they looked to snatch victory.

“There were a combination of things that went wrong in the line-out and I think we can all work harder in the week on that,” he added.

“Line-outs are a bit of a chess match and I guess they won it.

“But I think it is important that we focus on ourselves and make sure we get better regardless of what other teams do.

“We need to be able to function against the best defences in open play and in line-outs.

“I don’t think we got ahead of ourselves but it does bring us back down to reality.

“It was a learning curve and reminds us that we need to keep getting better.”