Warriors hold on for battling win
Worcester Warriors lifted a great weight from the shoulders of rugby director Dean Ryan with a first victory of the season over Cardiff Blues thanks to a second-half rearguard action.
Normally, LV= Cup matches offer an opportunity to experiment, for youngsters to be blooded and new combinations to be tried.
However for Premiership basement boys Worcester, the result was for once the most important thing.
The Warriors had two early chances to ease the pressure, fly-half Ignacio Mieres striking a post from distance and former Ospreys hooker Ed Shervington went within a foot of the line following a driving lineout only to be penalised for a double movement.
Blues pivot Gareth Davies then kicked two penalties in quick succession.
But Worcester struck back, flanker Jake Abbott breaking some flimsy tackling and handing on to burly prop Rob O'Donnell, who rumbled over for Mieres to convert.
The Warriors pack were establishing their supremacy, O'Donnell prominent in tight and loose, and it was another charge by the prop that allowed scrum-half and skipper Paul Hodgson to feed flying right wing James Stephenson.
The former Bedford man marked his first start for the Warriors by jinking inside and skinning the Blues defence to reach the posts and make the conversion simple for Mieres.
Things went from bad to worse for the Blues, with Davies limping off to be replaced by debutant Simon Humberstone, before visiting centre Max Stelling raced in for a superb individual score, again improved by Mieres.
Right on half-time, the Blues were awarded a penalty which saw Worcester lock Chris Jones binned for killing the ball, but Humberstone's kick curled wide.
When he had a second opportunity in the second half, Humberstone opted to go for the corner.
He won a decent position, the Blues took the lineout, only for a knock-on seemingly to end the attack. But scrum-half Lewis Jones caught Hodgson in possession at the base of the scrum and flanker Thomas Young dashed under the posts for Humberstone to cut the deficit to eight points.
The novice fly-half followed up with a penalty and Worcester were beginning to have a few doubts.
When full-back Dan Fish found good field position, their hopes were further raised but the Blues coughed up a penalty and time was running out as the Warriors held firm.