Planet Rugby

Worcester face nervous final weekend

15th April 2007 17:09

Share:

Worcester have been left fighting to the death for their Guinness Premiership survival with Northampton, after the warriors fell 26-16 to London Irish at the Madejski on Sunday.

Should the Saints beat London Irish and Worcester fall to Saracens, the men from the west will face the drop, and the may have nly themselves to blame, as they once again failed to take anything from an evenly-balanced game.

Worcester led Irish 13-12 early in the second period, but Exiles wing Sailosi Tagicakibau's second try meant no way back for the visitors, who claimed a touchdown by scrum-half Matt Powell and 11 points from full-back Shane Drahm.

Irish hooker Robbie Russell and lock Bob Casey also crossed, while centre Nils Mordt slotted three conversions to ultimately keep Worcester at a safe distance.

The Warriors produced a wonderfully committed display, yet their lack of try-scoring firepower was again highlighted.

Given play-off contenders Saracens' current blistering form, Worcester will go into their final game as second favourites, and the odds now appear to be slightly in Northampton's favour.

Worcester went into battle knowing a maximum points haul would secure Premiership safety, but they were without suspended lock Craig Gillies, which meant Will Bowley forging a youthful second-row partnership alongside Richard Blaze.

Irish, still striving for a top-six finish, bade a Madejski Stadium farewell to departing trio Justin Bishop, Barry Everitt and Neal Hatley, but injuries sidelined England backs Mike Catt and Shane Geraghty.

Conditions were perfect for a feast of attacking rugby, and Irish made all the early running, monopolising possession as powerful centre Seilala Mapusua made himself an imposing midfield target.

Irish were determined to put pace on the ball, leaving Worcester at times requiring some last-ditch defensive work, but Warriors cracked on 13 minutes when Mapusua floated out a defence-splitting pass that gave Tagicakibau a simple run-in.

Worcester adopted more of a route-one approach, yet their perseverance paid off seven minutes later following a sustained spell of pressure.

Skipper Pat Sanderson and hooker Aleki Lutui both made powerful surges towards the Irish line, and although a brilliant Mapusua tackle held up Lutui, Worcester secured a sufficient territorial foothold for Powell to cross.

Drahm's successful conversion edged the visitors ahead, with Irish losing their early fizz and finding themselves immersed in an attritional encounter as Worcester's heavyweight forwards threatened to boss the critical breakdown area.

Irish knew they had to re-establish a foothold in the game, but they delivered six minutes before half-time when powerful driving play by the forwards enabled Russell to administer a scoring touch from close-range.

Mordt took over the kicking duties from Flutey, and he enjoyed immediate success, rifling an angled conversion attempt between the posts for a 12-7 lead before Russell limped off.

A Drahm penalty closed the gap before as half-time approached, setting up a tense second period with Worcester still in control of their Premiership destiny.

Drahm's 42nd-minute penalty regained the lead for Worcester, yet they were immediately forced into defensive mode when Tagicakibau and full-back Topsy Ojo made menacing breaks that stretched the visitors.

Worcester's resilience though, could not be questioned, and with Sanderson driving them forward at every opportunity, the Warriors were good value for their narrow advantage.Irish, playing in patches rather than reproducing their early sustained excellence, went back in front through Tagicakibau's second try which was created by Flutey's stunning pass, but even though Mordt converted, Worcester remained in bonus point range.

Drahm completed his penalty hat-trick 13 minutes from time, cutting the deficit to 19-16, but Irish secured a bonus point triumph when skipper Casey ploughed over seven minutes from time.

The scorers:

For London Irish:

Tries: Tagicakibau 2, Russell, Casey

Cons: Mordt 3

For Worcester:

Try: Powell

Con: Drahm

Pens: Drahm 3

London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Justin Bishop, 13 Seilala Mapusua, 12 Nils Mordt, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Riki Flutey, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Phil Murphy, 7 Olivier Magne, 6 Kieran Roche, 5 Bob Casey (capt), 4 James Hudson, 3 Tonga Lea'aetoa, 2 Robbie Russell, 1 Neal Hatley.

Replacements: 16 Danie Coetzee, 17 David Paice, 18 Nick Kennedy, 19 Declan Danaher, 20 Delon Armitage, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Barry Everitt.

Worcester Warriors: 15 Shane Drahm, 14 Lee Best, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 12 Gary Trueman, 11 Thinus Delport, 10 James Brown, 9 Matt Powell, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Pat Sanderson (capt), 6 Drew Hickey, 5 Richard Blaze, 4 Will Bowley, 3 Chris Horsman, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Tony Windo.

Replacements: 16 Darren Morris, 17 Chris Fortey, 18 Tevita Taumoepeau, 19 Phil Murphy, 20 Gavin Quinnell, 21 Nick Runciman, 22 Mark Tucker.

Referee: Sean Davey

Touch judges: Stuart Terheege, Andrew Pearce

Assessor: Paul Bridgman

Television match official: Brian Abrahams

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs Australia14:30
USA vs New Zealand20:50
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615