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Ryan relieved after "shock" result

Published 27/05/2015

Worcester rugby director Dean Ryan celebrates his team's return to the Aviva Premiership after a thrilling clash against Bristol at Sixways
Worcester rugby director Dean Ryan celebrates his team's return to the Aviva Premiership after a thrilling clash against Bristol at Sixways

Worcester rugby director Dean Ryan was both relieved and elated after seeing his team secure a spectacular return to the Aviva Premiership.

The Warriors looked down and out at Sixways when they trailed by 14 points against Bristol with five minutes left, but a penalty try and full-back Chris Pennell's second touchdown with only 25 seconds remaining - plus two Ryan Lamb conversions - secured a 30-30 second leg draw.

It meant that Worcester won the Championship final 59-58 on aggregate, taking them back into the Premiership after a 12-month absence.

But for Bristol, it was a case of more play-off promotion agony - the fourth time since 2009 - and they will remain in the Championship for at least another season.

Second-half tries by flanker Jack Lam, centre Jack Tovey and substitute Matthew Morgan during a devastating 11-minute spell, plus 15 points from fly-half Nicky Robinson, looked to have seen Bristol home.

But Pennell and Lamb, who also finished with 15 points, had other ideas as the Warriors secured an aggregate triumph by a single point after Bristol had been reduced to 14 men following skipper Dwayne Peel's late yellow card.

Having won the first leg 29-28 at Ashton Gate seven days ago - a victory that was clinched during the dying seconds of stoppage time - Worcester again kept their nerve and left shattered Bristol wondering what might have been.

"I am a little bit shocked, and never saw that (the result) coming," Ryan said.

"The two-legged play-off is a strange thing, and that last 10 minutes was really weird. We were great last week, we weren't so great in this game, but we got the result.

"The players kept believing in that last 10 minutes, but I really do feel for Bristol because that was a game where we escaped.

"We really didn't have any of the game in the second-half, and the pressure kept coming. When Cooper Vuna went off with a yellow card they had a free run, really.

"Once he was back on, we understood that we needed to get field position and we could get the forward drive going again.

"Sport is cruel, and that has happened to me probably three or four times when I have been on the better side. I think that Bristol were the better side on the night.

"It has been a long old trawl. Last year was tough, and we have got a lot of work to do. Today was our day."

Bristol boss Andy Robinson, meanwhile, cut a dejected figure following a punishing Sixways finale for his team.

"I am hugely disappointed by what has happened," Robinson said.

"How a player (Peel) can get yellow-carded in that last five minutes really infuriates and disappoints me, particularly after what happened in the first-half where we had a couple of mauls going over the line when they were illegally stopped.

"These are the small margins of these games.

"The players were immense, the way they went out and played the game, but it is these small margins that cost and hurt you.

"I can safely say that this is the cruelest bit of sport I have ever been involved in for a team that was outstanding in the way that they played the game.

"Credit to Worcester for what they did in that last five minutes where they stayed together."

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