Planet Rugby

Van Velze double sees off Worcester

15th February 2014 16:58

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Northampton Saints centre George Pisi taking contact

Taking it up: George Pisi

Northampton moved back to the top of the Aviva Premiership standings after beating bottom side Worcester 30-14 at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.

A low-key first half with chances few and far between saw Northampton lead 9-6 at the break, with Chris Pennell scoring penalties either side of three Stephen Myler kicks.

The first 15 minutes of the second-half saw more action than the entirety of the first 40 minutes as the Saints were awarded a penalty try before David Lemi hit back for the visitors with a try of his own, only to see Northampton score another try soon after through Gerrit-Jan van Velze.

Jonathan Thomas was then sent off for punching before Sam Dickinson and Leonardo Senatore were sin binned. van Velze sealed the victory with his second try with just over 10 minutes remaining.

The Warriors opened the scoring after just five minutes when a penalty was awarded at the scrum which Pennell dispatched.

Pennell had the opportunity to double Worcester's lead when a penalty was awarded near the halfway line after play was brought back following a review from the TMO, but Pennell's kick fell just short.

Despite seeing plenty of the ball, Worcester failed to make significant ground with it, and a Myler penalty gave the hosts good territory before winning another penalty, which the fly-half kicked to level the match.

The Saints came close to scoring the opening try of the game when Samu Manoa expertly started a promising move before Jamie Elliott was denied out wide by the covering Pennell.

Northampton did extend their lead soon after though as an off-the-ball altercation produced a penalty for Myler, who made no mistake with the kick.

Worcester again found themselves in possession but saw their profligacy punished with another penalty, with Myler extending the lead to six points.

Pennell earned a penalty for the visitors on the stroke of half time to close the gap; an opportunity he duly accepted to leave the side just three points adrift at the break.

Northampton looked to increase the pressure early on in the second half, and after a drive towards the line fell apart, the referee awarded a penalty try with Myler gifted a simple conversion to take a 16-6 lead.

Worcester responded perfectly and Alex Grove poked a kick through which Lemi latched onto to close the gap.

Tempers flared as the Warriors had looked to have got themselves back into the game as Thomas was given a red card for punching Dickinson, who himself was sent to the sin bin for pulling back James Percival.

After the maul was sacked by the Warriors, Betty saw himself sent to the sin bin, leaving them down to 13 men.

The Saints took advantage of the chaotic state of play and the man advantage and van Velze, with help from the driving pack, went over the line, with Myler converting again to give the hosts a 12-point lead.

Worcester were handed a lifeline when Calum Clark was caught offside, Pennell kicking his third penalty of game to leave them nine behind. Northampton sealed the win after Ken Pisi broke through, and before the visitors could regroup, van Velze scored his second of the game, with Myler kicking his third conversion.

The Saints pushed for their fourth try after the 80th minute, but after intense pressure the ball came loose and the bonus point was denied.

The scorers:

For Northampton:
Tries: Penalty Try, Van Velze 2
Con: Myler 3
Pen: Myler 3
Yellow: Dickinson

For Worcester:
Try: Lemi
Pen: Pennell 3
Yellow: Senatore, Betty
Red: Thomas

Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson (c), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Sam Dickinson, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Ben Nutley, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Fa'atoina Auagavaia

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Ravai Fatiaki, 11 David Lemi, 10 Paul Warwick, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Jonathan Thomas (C), 7 Sam Betty, 6 Leonardo Senatore, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Dean Schofield, 3 John Andress, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 George Porter, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 James Percival, 20 Richard de Carpentier, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Dean Hammond.

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, Andy Watson
Television match official: Trevor Fisher

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