Worcester win epic promotion battle

Date published: May 28 2015

Worcester Warriors will return to the Premiership after a remarkable second-leg final against Bristol, winning 30-30 (59-58 on aggregate.)

Man of the Match and England squad member Chris Pennell was the hero once again for the Warriors, his loyalty paying off as Worcester somehow produced a 14-point turnaround in the final ten minutes to clinch promotion from the Championship.

For Bristol it was utter devastation once again after losing their second Premiership final in a row. Andy Robinson and his squad will soak up the pain and try again next season, but this was the strongest kind of agony after missing out on aggregate by a single point.

It looked as though the visitors had snatched the result with three second-half tries from Jack Lam, Jack Tovey and Matthew Morgan, but it wasn't to be as Worcester dug deeper than ever.

Ryan Lamb might have been worried that his missed 12 points off the boot in the previous leg would dent his side's chances, but his first strike was perfect as Worcester took the early lead.

Bristol would have been forgiven for playing with caution but instead they began with an all-out attack from Nicky Robinson, taking quick penalties rather than opting for the points without it paying off.

Robinson eventually levelled things up after first clattering the post, with he and Lamb trading kicks until the game's first try on the half hour mark.

Pennell was the man to finish in the corner after Lamb's kick ahead, with the TMO confirming the score before a third penalty from Lamb made it 16-6 (45-34) at the break.

Bristol had to flick a switch in the second half and throw everything at their hosts to chase down that deficit, which they did from the off.

Good work from the electric David Lemi down the wing led to Worcester's Cooper Vuna being sin-binned and with their man advantage the Bristol pack thundered towards the line for Lam to score at the bottom of the pile.

Jack Tovey found his way over not long after when he was put into space down the right touchline for the go-ahead try, sending Sixways into silence, before Lemi was at it again with more magical running to set up Morgan for a try under the posts, as Bristol went ahead 30-16 (58-45).

Worcester's hopes looked shot to pieces but they showed remarkable team spirit to fight back, first with a penalty try which put Bristol to 14 men and Worcester within six points of victory, before Pennell glided over untouched after some immense pressure on the Bristol line with less than a minute on the clock.

Lamb's conversion gave Worcester the one-point lead they needed, sealing promotion to the huge delight of the home crowd. Bristol will be devastated, but the Warriors are back in the big time and they did it in style.

The scorers:

For Worcester:
Tries: Pennell 2, Penalty Try
Cons: Lamb 3
Pens: Lamb 3
Yellow Card: Vuna

For Bristol:

Tries: Lam, Tovey, Morgan

Cons: Robinson 3

Pens: Robinson 3

Yellow Card: Peel

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Tom Biggs, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 JB Bruzulier,       8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Sam Betty, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Jonathan Thomas, 4 James Percival, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Joe Rees, 19 Leonardo Senatore, 20 Jamie Shillcock, 21 Ravai Fatiaki, 22 Ben Howard

Bristol: 15 Jack Wallace, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Jack Tovey, 12 Ben Mosses, 11 David Lemi, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Dwayne Peel (c), 8 Mitch Eadie, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Marco Mama, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Ben Glynn, 3 Gaston Cortes, 2 Chris Brooker, 1 Kyle Traynor

Replacements: 16 Max Crumpton, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Glen Townson, 19 Olly Robinson, 20 Tom Kessell, 21 Matthew Morgan, 22 Gareth Maule

Referee: JP Doyle