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
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
Sunday , September 7
London Welsh vs Exeter14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 6
New Zealand vs Argentina08:35
Australia vs South Africa11:05
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , September 6
Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons17:00
Glasgow vs Leinster17:15
Sunday , September 7
Zebre vs Cardiff Blues17:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
Saturday , September 6
Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
Lyon vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs La Rochelle18:30
Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
Saturday , September 6
Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
Sharks vs Griquas17:05
Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki 41 - 3 Bay Of PlentyTaranaki vs Bay Of Plenty Report
Auckland 16 - 16 TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Report
Southland 22 - 33 Otago
North Harbour 16 - 22 WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00