Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Worcester set club record after beating London Irish for fourth successive win

Worcester recorded four successive Premiership victories for the first time in their history after beating London Irish 12-6, a result that all but ensures the Warriors' top-flight survival.

Worcester followed up wins over Newcastle, Gloucester and Harlequins by seeing off fellow relegation-battlers Irish in an error-ridden and dour contest at Sixways.

There were no tries in the game, with Tom Heathcote kicking four penalties for Worcester to two from Greig Tonks for the Exiles.

There was little between the sides but Irish will rue their missed chances and their decision not to take kickable penalties.

Their latest defeat - a 14th in 18 games this season - sees Irish remain at the bottom of the table, four points behind Newcastle who play Wasps on Sunday.

Alex Lewington was a late withdrawal for Irish with Andy Fenby being called up to replace him on the wing.

The visitors overcame that setback to make the better start as Worcester conceded a number of early penalties, which allowed Irish to dominate the opening 10 minutes.

However, Irish never looked threatening enough to break down a stubborn Warriors defence and the home side were able to relieve the pressure.

Worcester had the first chance for points but surprisingly they twice declined to take kickable penalties in favour of more attacking options, only for their choice to go unrewarded as Irish also showed some defensive mettle.

It therefore came as no surprise that the first quarter ended scoreless as both sides were guilty of poor ball retention and careless handling errors.

The second quarter saw Worcester become the dominant force, pinning Irish in their own 22 with some sustained pressure and they were rewarded when Heathcote broke the stalemate with two penalties in quick succession.

When a clearance kick from Ryan Mills was charged down by Matt Symons, Irish had a glimmer of hope of scoring the opening try but a careless knock-on by Tom Court prevented them from capitalising.

Soon afterwards, the Exiles had another opportunity to notch up their first points but they too declined an easy shot at goal.

Instead they went in search of a try but Johnny Williams knocked on close to the line, which allowed the Warriors to escape and retain their 6-0 lead at the interval.

Irish wing Topsy Ojo injured his arm in the last play before half-time and did not return for the second half, with Fergus Mulchrone coming on as his replacement. Court was also withdrawn with Tom Smallbone taking his place at prop.

Errors continued to be the feature of the game in the second half, illustrated by visiting forward Blair Cowan failing to take Sean Maitland's pass after the full-back had beaten three opponents in making the best attacking run of the game.

Minutes later, it got even worse for Irish when they broke out of defence and looked certain to score only for Ciaran Hearn to knock-on a pass from Williams near halfway when the centre had a clear run to the line.

Irish were made to pay for their wastefulness when Heathcote kicked his third penalty after 55 minutes before Tonks succeeded with a penalty 10 minutes from time to make it 9-3.

There was still time for both players to exchange further penalties with Tonks' second giving Irish a deserved bonus point, but it was Worcester who held on for an historic win.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph