Warriors salvaged a late bonus point as they went down 27-20 to Oyonnax at a freezing, snowy Stade Charles-Mathon in the European Challenge Cup.
Sam Olver and Julien Audy exchanged early penalties before a Joe Taufete’e yellow card allowed Vincent Lasmarrigues and Audy to cross the whitewash while Warriors were down to 14 men.
And an Audy penalty on the stroke of half-time gave the hosts a healthy 20-3 lead.
Warriors soon bounced back with an Olver penalty before the fly-half converted his own try but Valentin Ursache immediately responded by bashing over from the restart.
Alafoti Faosiliva then showed tremendous power and pace to score and an Olver conversion had Warriors within seven but despite their efforts to try and recover a draw, Oyonnax had the last chance with a penalty but Anthony Fuertes’ kick dropped wide of the upright to leave Warriors with a point.
Oyonnax enjoyed the early pressure and territory and scrum-half Audy looked to get them moving as they looked to penetrate the Worcester backline.
And he should have opened the scoring on nine minutes, only to see his penalty effort drift wide.
It was very much a kicking battle for most of the opening period as both teams looked to exert pressure by booting downfield for territory and it soon paid off for Warriors as a deep kick gave Oyonnax a lineout under pressure five metres out which the visitors ultimately turned over.
And from that attack, Warriors won a penalty allowing Olver to slot the first points of the night.
Oyonnax looked for an immediate reply but Warriors defended valiantly by their line to deny them, but the visitors were soon pinged off a lineout and Audy did hit the target this time to level the scores.
Warriors were then reduced to 14 men when Taufete’e was sin-binned for a tip-tackle and the hosts made the extra man count by creating space out wide for Lasmarrigues to touch down and Audy added the extras.
Audy then scored a solo try down the left as he chipped and chased for the line, and a fortunate bounce went over Max Stelling’s head and into the grateful hands of the number nine who dotted down before converting once again.
The Oyonnax scrum-half then landed a penalty to put his side 20-3 ahead at the break leaving Carl Hogg’s men with a mountain to climb in the French Alps in the second period.
Warriors came out firing and soon had a chance to reduce the deficit and Olver did just that with a penalty 40 metres out in the heavy snow.
He then had a pop from the halfway line only to see his effort fall just wide.
Oyonnax then almost had a third try when prop Irakli Mirtskhulava broke through but Olver produced a stunning tackle on the giant forward and the ball was lost forward.
And Warriors almost punished them immediately when getting into the 22 before knocking on at the crucial stage.
However, the visitors did get their score when Olver showed a dummy to dive over and converted to bring his side within seven.
But straight from the restart Oyonnax replacement lock Ursache powered over.
The snow was beating down as Warriors chased the game but they got another try courtesy of Faosiliva who ran a superb line before being shoved over for the final stretch and Olver converted to make it 27-20.
However, despite their best efforts to salvage an unlikely draw, Oyonnax looked as if they were going to leave Warriors empty-handed as they went for goal at the death, but despite Fuertes eating up time, the number ten missed the kick and so it meant Hogg’s side came away with a vital bonus point.
That point could prove very handy in January as Warriors tackle Connacht Rugby and Brive as they look for a place in the knockout stages.
16m | Olver pen 0-3
21m | Audy pen 3-3
27m | Lasmarrigues try 8-3
28m | Audy con 10-3
32m | Audy try 15-3
33m | Audy con 17-3
40m | Audy pen 20-3
45m | Olver pen 20-6
53m | Olver try 20-11
54m | Olver con 20-13
55m | Ursache try 25-13
56m | Audy con 27-13
72m | Faosiliva try 27-18
72m | Olver con 27-20
Warriors | 15 Ben Howard, 14 Tom Howe (Haupt 30-34), 13 Chris Pennell (Adams 59), 12 Max Stelling, 11 Perry Humphreys (Shillcock 78), 10 Sam Olver, 9 Michael Dowsett (Baldwin 52); 1 Ryan Bower (C) (Milasinovich 68), 2 Joe Taufete’e (Haupt 52), 3 Simon Kerrod (Alo 62), 4 Pierce Phillips, 5 Darren Barry (Faosiliva 14-23), 6 Huw Taylor (Faosiliva 68), 7 Andrew Durutalo (Williams 68), 8 David Denton
Replacements | 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Gareth Milasinovich, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Alafoti Faosiliva, 20 Matti Williams, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Josh Adams
|Competition:||European Rugby Challenge Cup|