Single point agony for Warriors against Irish

Warriors suffered single point heartbreak at the hands of London Irish as the boot of Peter Hewat edged the Exiles to a narrow win at Sixways.

Aussie import Hewat kicked all the points for the visitors as Worcester hit back with a try from Rico Gear.

Second half penalties from Loki Crichton and Shane Drahm saw the hosts move within a point but despite a late fight-back the Warriors again had to settle for just a losing bonus.

Warriors started with plenty of tempo but gave away an early penalty in the lineout and handed the visitors the perfect chance to open the scoring. However, Delon Armitage’s kick was short and wide allowing Miles Benjamin to smash clear into touch.

A few minutes later it was Irish who infringed in the lineout and this time Loki Crichton found touch to put Worcester in an attacking position. Hooker Aleki Lutui made the hard yards before Crichton’s kick over the top just had too much pace and ran dead.

The game started at real pace but a poor pass saw Crichton fumble and offside against Benjamin again handed Armitage the chance to break the deadlock. The centre looked confident but saw his kick slide wide right to the relief of the home support.

Worcester were attacking with plenty of verve but were being penalised by referee Rob Debney at every opportunity and a harsh decision for crossing allowed Aussie full back Peter Hewat to split the posts for a 3-0 lead.

Pat Sanderson charged down a kick from the restart but again the luck was against Warriors as it span wide right not backwards allowing Topsy Ojo to boot clear.

Irish were soon again on the attack and a grubber kick past the cover defence as they looked wide saw full back Delport react quickly to collect over the whitewash with three men bearing down on him. From the restart, back row Kai Horstmann brilliantly took the kick from Crichton and chipped ahead to again put Worcester on the front foot.

Warriors though they had a chance to attack at the midway point of the first half when a long forward wide pass saw Irish stopped in their tracks only for referee Debney give the decision just as Rico Gear looked to tear clear with the ball.

Both sides were adopting a kicking game to make yards with Hewat and Delport in the thick of the action at full back. Warriors again looked to attack wide right but Dale Rasmussen’s floated pass to Gear was knocked on by the New Zealand international just as he looked to press the gas.

Referee Debney was again centre of attention after giving another penalty against Warriors and Drew Hickey at the breakdown. Hewat added the penalty for a 6-0 lead.

Irish strayed offside from the restart and Crichton again looked to turn the screw with a kick to the corner only for the lineout to be lost.

Visiting lock James Hudson was then hit for coming in the side and Crichton again looked for touch. Greg Rawlinson took the ball and the pack rumbled forward before the ball was spun wide. Benjamin made the initial break with a curling run and applied the finishing touches for Gear to slide in the right corner for the opening try of the game. Crichton was wide with the conversion but Warriors cut the lead to a single point.

Hewat added another penalty just before the break when Worcester were penalised in the scrum and then referee Debney incensed home fans when a quick lineout saw Sam Tuitupou race clear only to get called back for taking the throw from the wrong spot.

Huge pressure before the break from Irish saw Gear with a certain try saving tackle before the forwards came to Warriors rescue as they slammed the door shut in injury time before winning the ball back.

Hewat made another curling break from the restart as Irish looked to pick up where they left off in the first period. A stolen lineout put Warriors on the back foot and the impressive Hewat slotted a drop goal to put his side 12-5 ahead.

Irish were now stringing together long periods of possession and phases as Warriors worked hard to keep them out.

When Worcester did get their hands on the ball Delport and Benjamin looked to run from deep but were called back for a forward pass against the young wing as he tried release the South African flier in space.

A scrum penalty against Irish gave Worcester a platform to attack but after an initial burst from Tuitupou the ball was knocked forward by Benjamin as he looked to hit the accelerator.

A charge down clearance by Horstmann again ran against Warriors but forced Armitage to not release in front of his own posts. Crichton stepped up and drilled the penalty through the middle to cut the lead to 12-8.

Irish made a trip of changes in the pack to try and freshen things up but a mistake by Sailosi Tagicakibau as he knock needlessly into touch gave the home side new hope as Powell’s grubber put the visitors on the back foot in their own half.

Irish suddenly were making the unforced errors to hand back possession and when Armitage hit Crichton with a high tackle the penalty went to Warriors. However, Delport’s kick to touch span dead instead of making the key yards needed for the home side.
Shane Drahm was brought on for a groggy Crichton and instantly had a chance to reduce the arrears with a penalty. The fly half made no mistake as he split the uprights to cut the lead to a single point again.

The home side were now being backed to the hilt by a huge vocal crowd who were willing their side onwards but a lineout called not straight gave the visitors another strong platform to build from.

A penalty against Drew Hickey, who was soon replaced by Tom Wood, gave Hewat the chance to push his side further ahead but he saw his effort slide past the posts on 67 minutes.

A succession of penalties against Worcester saw them struggle to mount an attacking base and when Drahm floated a pass back inside it saw Richard Skuse sprint towards the line. Desperate defence kept the Irish out before Tagicakibau knocked on with the line within touching distance as he was hit by Horstmann and Gear. Drahm’s searching cross field kick was then inches from hitting the target of Benjamin as he raced down the wing.

Worcester staged a brave late fight-back as the minutes rolled down but could not get in drop goal range as the Irish defence slammed shut to deny Warriors.

13m Hewat p 0-3
27m Hewat p 0-6
31m Gear t 5-6
36m Hewat p 5-9
43m Hewat dg 5-12
51m Crichton p 8-12
61m Drahm p 11-12

Warriors: 01 Tony Windo (Mullan 61), 02 Aleki Lutui, 03 Tevita Taumoepeau (Ruwers 76), 04 Greg Rawlinson, 05 Craig Gillies (Bowley 76), 06 Drew Hickey (Wood 68), 07 Pat Sanderson (c), 08 Kai Horstmann, 09 Matt Powell (R Powell 65), 10 Loki Crichton (Drahm 59), 11 Miles Benjamin, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 13 Dale Rasmussen (Garvey 74), 14 Rico Gear, 15 Thinus Delport

Replacements: 16 Matt Mullan, 17 Shaun Ruwers, 18 Will Bowley, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Ryan Powell 21 James Brown, 22 Marcel Garvey