Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Worcester claim first victory

Jon Clarke, right, helped Worcester to a bonus-point win

Worcester collected their first Aviva Premiership win of the season with an ultimately convincing performance in a 35-11 victory against London Irish at Sixways.

The hosts led 16-11 with less than 15 minutes remaining but three late tries saw their superiority rewarded with a bonus-point victory. Kick-off was delayed by 30 minutes after Irish arrived late due heavy traffic on the M5. Worcester had the first chance after six minutes but Andy Goode's penalty attempt from just inside his own half fell narrowly short.

Warriors' Nikki Walker left the field with a leg injury two minutes later to be replaced by former Northampton centre Jon Clarke, making his home debut. It was Irish who scored the first try after 14 minutes. A neat pass from Marland Yarde sent Ofisa Treviranus away and the number eight had sufficient pace to hold off the cover defence for an excellent score.

Steve Shingler missed the conversion but was soon on target with a simple penalty. Saliosi Tagicakibau carelessly knocked-on the restart to give the Warriors a platform in the visitors' 22 and he was made to pay for his error as Aleki Lutui drove over from close range for the try which Goode converted.

Even at this early stage it seemed a contest between the stronger home pack against the more creative running of the Irish three-quarters, who were seeing too little of the ball. After 30 minutes another mistake from Tagicakibau cost his side dear when the wing received a yellow card for tip tackling Jonny Arr.

Goode easily kicked the resulting penalty to put Worcester into the lead for the first time. Shingler was given a penalty opportunity 50 metres out after the Warriors were penalised but he couldn't capitalise and the hosts deservedly led 10-8 at the interval. Tagicakibau returned for the second half with Worcester having failed to take any advantage from his absence.

The Warriors nearly extended their lead when Goode made a fine break, handing off a weak tackling attempt from Ian Humphreys in the process. The outside half kicked ahead but a knock on just short of the line ruined Worcester's hopes of a second try but soon afterwards they were rewarded when Goode kicked another penalty.

Almost immediately Shingler nullified this with a 45-metre penalty and when Matt Kvesic was penalised for not releasing, the centre had a chance to put Irish back into the lead but his kick from halfway sailed wide. The next penalty chance fell to Goode and he was bang on target from nearly 50 metres.

The Worcester pack continued to dominate which resulted in Irish flanker Jamie Gibson being sin-binned for illegally stopping one of their drives. The Irish line was under intense pressure but somehow their defence held firm which meant it was only 16-11 to the hosts with 15 minutes remaining.

Three minutes later, Worcester scored the decisive try. Goode, Clarke and James Percival were heavily involved in a movement which ended with David Lemi outflanking the defence. Goode missed that conversion but kicked two as Worcester scored two late tries through Semisi Taulava and Clarke to run out comfortable winners.

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