London Irish dig deep to secure vital victory over Worcester
Tries either side of half-time from Ciaran Hearn and Andy Fenby breathed new life into London Irish's Aviva Premiership campaign as they secured a crucial 20-13 win against fellow strugglers Worcester.
The Exiles are now 11th - by virtue of more wins - ahead of Newcastle, after dominating an out-of-sorts Worcester for much of the match. Hearn's superb solo effort was the least they deserved at half-time, before Shane Geraghty and Ryan Mills traded penalty to see Irish go in 10-3 up at the break.
Yellow cards for Bryce Heem and Donncha O'Callaghan did not help Worcester's cause either, though the former redeemed himself with a 46th-minute try.
But Fenby's try, and then a late Geraghty penalty, kept the Exiles ticking over despite Val Rapava-Ruskin going over for Worcester in between.
The Exiles almost had the perfect start to the contest when hooker Niall Annett was penalised inside four minutes, but Geraghty shanked his kick wide of the posts to let Worcester off the hook.
Irish again thought they had broken the deadlock after 11 minutes, only to be denied by the TMO, who awarded a Warriors penalty for Halani Aulika holding on in the tackle.
Canada centre Hearn finally gave Irish the lead with a quarter-hour played with a magnificent try, a chip-and-chase over the heads of two defenders, to go in behind and score.
Mills converted a penalty after 23 minutes to reduce the Exiles' lead and put the Warriors on the board, having repelled a good deal of pressure from the home side.
But Heem was shown a yellow card for tripping up Scott Steele just past the half-hour mark to make life even more difficult for the visitors - Geraghty making no mistake with the resulting penalty.
Irish should have scored again in the closing stages of the half, with Fenby in space on the right-hand side and Hearn on the overlap, but the full-back knocked on.
Topsy Ojo almost had a try on his 250th appearance shortly after the break, but the TMO awarded a penalty to Worcester for obstruction in the build-up.
The Warriors then kicked into touch and pinned Irish back, with Heem eventually scoring uncontested, before Andy Symons dragged the conversion wide.
The Exiles thought they had struck back immediately, but the TMO chalked off an Irish try for the third time on the afternoon, Warriors lock O'Callaghan being shown a yellow card in the aftermath.
The home side finally scored their second try of the game on 54 minutes, when Geraghty's reverse pass found Fenby, who coolly touched down between the posts. Geraghty's conversion made it 17-8.
David Paice was shown a yellow card amid concerted Worcester pressure and the Warriors made the man advantage count with 10 minutes to play, when replacement Rapava-Ruskin snuck across the line, but Symons missed his third of three kicks and the score stayed 17-13.
Geraghty scored a penalty seven minutes from time before Irish saw out only their third Premiership victory of the season.