A SPIRITED second-half showing saw Worcester Warriors salvage a bonus point from a 21-15 defeat to Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium in the Gallagher Premiership.

Warriors faced an 18-0 deficit at half-time after Josh Beaumont and Denny Solomona went over in a one-sided opening period.

But Worcester fought back brilliantly after the break and got within six points thanks to tries from Bryce Heem and Chris Pennell.

The visitors mounted one final attack at the death but were unable to end their 10-year wait for a win at Sale as the hosts held firm.

Warriors looked to bounce back from their opening-day 21-20 defeat to Wasps but were without their talisman Francis Hougaard.

The influential scrum-half was ruled out with a rib injury, leaving boss Alan Solomons to turn to the experienced Jonny Arr.

But Worcester were on the back foot from the off as Ryan Mills’ kick to touch went out on the full, leading to a Sale line-out inside the visitors’ 22.

And after mounting heavy pressure on Warriors’ try-line AJ MacGinty was handed a simple three-pointer to get his side off the mark.

Both teams kicked the ball away in a bid to gain territory but Sharks were winning that battle.

And on 20 minutes Sale scored the opening try as Marland Yarde did well to flick the ball outside for number eight Beaumont to cross in the corner.

MacGinty’s touchline conversion drifted wide.

Sale piled forward and thought they had scored their second try on 26 minutes when Jono Ross lunged for the try-line.

But after going to the TMO the Sharks captain was adjudged to have lost control of the ball as he tried to muscle his way over.

The hosts increased their lead on the half-hour mark when Marco Mama was penalised for offside and MacGinty landed the resulted penalty.

A loose line-out from Sale gave Warriors a rare chance to launch an attack but Mills then presented Solomona with a gift.

The centre’s pass was intercepted by the England wing who sprinted home from inside Sharks’ half to score a try which MacGinty converted.

With the first half almost over Warriors went through almost 40 phases as they looked to strike.

Francois Venter went the closest to scoring but Sale shut out the away side who eventually lost the ball.

Trailing 18-0, Worcester had it all to do in the second period but did not take long to cut the deficit.

After securing the ball at the line-out Warriors hammered their way forward before Arr fed Heem who powered over. Duncan Weir added the extras.

Worcester were firmly on top and had a try chalked off on 52 minutes as there was no clear evidence Arr had managed to ground the ball at the base of the post.

Weir closed the gap with a penalty before MacGinty cancelled that out with a three-pointer of his own following a high tackle from Darren Barry.

But Worcester looked after the ball well and their pressure told on 61 minutes as Josh Adams produced a brilliant offload to Pennell who finished in the corner.

Weir was unable to convert but Solomons’ men were just six points behind Sale at 21-15.

In a nervy final 10 minutes both sides made mistakes but Sharks did enough to secure victory.

Warriors: Pennell 7; HEEM 8, Venter 6 (Beck 66), Mills 6, Adams 7; Weir 7, Arr 6 (Heaney 55, 6); Black 6 (Bower 61, 6), Annett 7 (Taufete’e 56, 5), Schonert 6 (Kerrod 61, 5), Phillips 6 (Kitchener 56), Barry 7, Mama 7 (Fa’osiliva 55), Lewis 7, van Velze 7. Replacement not used: Lance.

Sale: McGuigan; Solomona, James, Jennings, Yarde; MacGinty, Cliff; Harrison, Webber, John, Evans, Phillips, Ross, Curry, Beaumont. Replacements: Neild, Tarus, Jones, Nott, Strauss, Warr, James, Odogwu.

Referee: JP Doyle.

Attendance: 7,149.