Frustrated Warriors held in basement battle

Warriors were forced to settle for a draw in the basement battle with Leeds Carnegie in wet and blustery conditions at Sixways Stadium.

Bottom of the table Carnegie shocked Warriors by taking an early lead in the televised clash through former Worcester player Mike MacDonald.

However, Mike Ruddock’s men stormed back with first half tries from Aleki Lutui and Miles Benjamin to level the scores at the break.

Worcester turned the screw in the second half and dominated possession and territory as they looked for a killer blow in the race to avoid bottom spot.

But the home side – who had three tries ruled out by the television official – could not find a way through as Leeds defending for their top-flight lives on a frustrating afternoon for Warriors.

“It was an opportunity that we let slip away,” said Ruddock. “In fairness to Leeds that got the first try in and after that we were always battling in difficult conditions.

“We dominated possession and territory so we’re disappointed to let our standards slip of the last two games.

“With all due respect to Leeds, we thought we would make enough opportunities to put them away. But they never gave up and made it very hard for us.”

Warriors looked pumped up from the start and turned over early ball before loose handling gave Leeds the chance to break the deadlock with a penalty for offside. However, Alberto Di Bernardo pulled his kick wide of the posts after four minutes.

The visitors enjoyed early pressure and pinned Warriors back with wing Benjamin forced to scramble back and clear to touch.

Lock Craig Gillies stole an early lineout but again turnover ball saw Leeds attack and kick to the corner. A short lineout was taken by hooker Mike MacDonald and, even though it clearly never went five metres, he crashed over from close range to give Leeds a dream start. Fly half Di Bernardo added the extras for a 7-0 lead to Carnegie.

Worcester hit back with real aggression and kept the ball close with the forward burrowing up before they went left and right and powerful hooker Aleki Lutui crashed over to reduce the early deficit and get the home crowd going.

Scrum half Matt Powell again put Leeds under pressure from the restart with a great kick over the top that put Carnegie firmly on the back foot. Back row dynamo Tom Wood stole the lineout but when Worcester looked right the ball was knocked on by Benjamin. Seconds later the youngster popped up on the other wing but was just held up as he looked to dance inside Tom Biggs and score.

From the scrum Worcester rumbled up close and Powell looked to pick up and dive over at the back of the rolling maul. The decision went to the TMO and he ruled a knock on at the back.

It was now all Warriors as they battered the visitors who were struggling to get out of their own half. A penalty against the Leeds forwards saw Drahm kick for the corner and Worcester poured on the heat with Lutui again held up.

Worcester again kept the ball tight with the forwards working hard before Tony Windo peeled off and went over only to be pulled back for another knock on.

Leeds had failed to get out of their 22 for 15 minutes and were put under more pressure when a scrum wheeled around. The ball was secured and when it went left it fell to Miles Benjamin who dived over to huge relief from the home support. Drahm just missed with his kick but Worcester led 10-7.

Both sides were struggling to find any rhythm with ball in hand with slippy conditions making it tough for the backs to link up and get any movement going. Home fans had hearts in mouth when a ball was hacked forward across the greasy turf but Drahm just got back to recover.

Leeds were back on the attack but Warriors were matching them in the tight and enjoying some dominance in the set piece. However, a penalty for not rolling away handed Di Bernardo a chance to draw the teams level and he made no mistake.

The visitors started the second half brightly and Di Bernardo saw an early drop goal just drift wide of the uprights.

Worcester again recycled ball through the forwards at the start of the second half but committed another error and the attacking platform was lost.

Drahm made a mini break down the flank but Leeds slammed the door shut before Biggs came close to hacking through for the visitors and Powell was forced to punt to touch.

Both teams were trading kicks for possession and territory as the tension grew inside the stadium with so much to play for. Leeds strung a sustained passage of play together but could find no way through a gold and blue wall of defiance.

Worcester made a break when Tom Wood danced clear and then the ball was taken on by Powell and Lutui. The forwards took the ball up close and Lutui looked to clamber over with the decision going to the TMO and again ruled out.

The noise inside Sixways was growing as Worcester again cranked up the pressure but Greg Rawlinson was guilty of knocking on. Warriors continued to dominate territory as the second half wore on but could find no way through a stubborn Leeds defence who were playing for their lives.

Benjamin looked to unlock the Leeds door with a grubber that Garvey just failed to latch onto and the danger was cleared by Biggs.
Drew Hickey and Matt Mullan were introduced before Sam Tuitupou made a clean break in the middle of the pitch and the ball was taken on by Dale Rasmussen. The Samoan centre looked to flick the ball wide but failed to find Benjamin who knocked on. Seconds later Craig Gillies charged down a kick but as the crowd celebrated a try play was taken back by referee Wayne Barnes for a knock on.

Leeds were penalised for coming in the side and Drahm opted to kick for the corner rather than go for three points in blustery winds. The lineout was secured but Leeds shunted the ball back and then Ryan Powell knocked on under pressure.

The two teams were now into the final minutes of an absorbing clash and Worcester continued to turn the screw. But Leeds hung in for all they were worth and the final whistle ensured both teams took points when both wanted a little bit more.

8m MacDonald t Di Bernardo c 0-7
14m Lutui t 5-7
28m Benjamin t 10-7
34m Di Bernardo p 10-10

Warriors: 01 Tony Windo (Mullan 67), 02 Aleki Lutui, 03 Tevita Taumoepeau, 04 Greg Rawlinson, 05 Craig Gillies (Bowley 78), 06 Tom Wood (Hickey 67), 07 Pat Sanderson, 08 Kai Horstmann, 09 Matt Powell (R Powell 78), 10 Shane Drahm, 11 Marcel Garvey, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 14 Miles Benjamin, 15 Thinus Delport

Replacements: 16 Matt Mullan, 17 Shaun Ruwers, 18 Will Bowley, 19 Drew Hickey, 20 Chris Pennell, 21 Joe Carlisle, 22 Ryan Powell