Harlequins gave themselves a massive shot in the Guinness Premiership arm with a 26-22 victory over Worcester at Sixways.
Harlequins gave themselves a huge shot in the Guinness Premiership arm with a 26-22 victory over Worcester at Sixways Stadium on Saturday.
Quins fully deserved their win though, overcoming the loss of Nick Easter to a leg injury before half-time to collect their fifth consecutive victory at this venue.
The hosts gave the scoreline a more respectable appearance with a converted try just before the final whistle.
Quins had the first chance on three minutes, but Nick Evans fired a routine kick wide.
However, the Londoners maintained the pressure and took the lead two minutes later – keeping possession via a line-out five metres from the Worcester line and setting up a ruck from which Care picked up to score. Evans converted.
Worcester responded, moving the ball skilfully from a scrum at half-way. George Robson was penalised for killing the ball at a ruck, and Willie Walker made no mistake with his 30 metre penalty.
But Harlequins restored their advantage minutes later when Evans kicked another penalty, after Rico Gear was penalised for an illegal tackle on Michael Brown.
Worcester's injury problems worsened when Tevita Taumoepeau left the field with a damaged hand after 19 minutes – and they nearly suffered a further setback moments later when Evans was narrowly beaten to the touchdown by Chris Latham.
Evans had the chance to increase his side's lead – but from the half way line, he hooked his kick well wide.
Quins looked the more dangerous side, but it was Worcester who got the next score when Walker kicked a 35 metre penalty with 12 minutes to go to half-time.
The visitors were then dealt two huge blows in quick succession.
First, captain Easter left the field with his injury – and then Ceri Jones was sin-binned following a line-out in their 22. Walker missed with the resulting kick.
For the next 10 minutes to half-time, Worcester tried to press home their numerical advantage – but their only reward was a Walker drop goal with the last kick of the half to leave Quins 13 – 9 ahead at the interval.
Worcester began the second half strongly and were rewarded when Walker reduced the deficit to one point with a penalty goal after 45 minutes.
They kept that advantage when Evans failed to take his chance with his 40 metre penalty attempt and then soon afterwards missed with a 45 metre drop goal, which was virtually his last act before he limped off to be replaced by Rory Clegg after 58 minutes.
Clegg's first piece of the action was to kick a 40 metre goal – and two minutes later, he added the conversion to a try from Brown which gave Quins a healthy 23 – 12
lead going into the final quarter.
Walker gave Worcester some hope with a simple penalty with nine minutes to go – but Clegg replied with one for the visitors.
Worcester continued to press and were rewarded with a last-minute try from replacement Callum Black – which was converted by Walker, to give the hosts a bonus point.
Pen: Walker 4
Tries: Care, Brown
Con: Evans, Clegg
Pen: Evans 2, Clegg 2
Worcester: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Willie Walker, 9 Ryan Powell, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Pat Sanderson (capt), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Adam Black.
Replacements: 16 Callum Black, 17 Chris Fortey, 18 Jack Gilding, 19 Will Bowley, 20 James Collins, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 George Crook, 23 Calum MacRae.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 David Strettle, 13 George Lowe, 12 Nils Mordt, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter (capt), 7 Neil McMillan, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Robson, 4 James Percival, 3 John Andress, 2 Tani Fuga, 1 Ceri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Aston Croall, 18 Mark Lambert, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Steve So'oialo, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Josh Druniniu.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth