Warriors claimed three European Challenge Cup points but had to settle for a 24-24 draw as Connacht Rugby did enough to win Pool 5 of the competition.
The draw means Warriors’ Challenge Cup fate will hinge on the results in the final pool games next weekend.
Warriors came out the blocks firing as they scored two tries in the opening four minutes courtesy of Perry Humphreys and Sam Lewis.
Connacht captain John Muldoon got the visitors off the mark, but Humphreys’ second try after 22 minutes gave Warriors a 17-7 lead.
In an action-packed first-half Niyi Adeolokun touched down for Connacht’s second, before Josh Adams raced through to secure a try bonus point before the break as the hosts racked up 24-14 lead at the break.
Defences were on top at the start of the second period as Warriors looked to protect their lead. But Connacht managed to hunt down the hosts’ advantage to level the score at 24-24 courtesy of a Tiernan O’Halloran try and five points from the boot of away fly-half Craig Ronaldson.
Both sides searched for a way through to secure the victory, but neither side could add to their tally as the match ended 24-24.
Warriors Head Coach Carl Hogg named a strong side as the hosts looked to take one step closer to qualifying for the Challenge Cup knockout stages.
And the home side were ahead after just two minutes as Adams kicked a perfectly-weighted grubber towards the tryline after pulling the away defence out of position.
Humphreys illustrated his pace to reach the ball first and touched down to give Warriors the start they were looking for.
Hogg’s men had started quickly and soon stretched their lead after some clever football skills. GJ van Velze reacted quickly to a ball which had been charged down and slid to kick the ball forward.
Humphreys raced up the right and managed to get his foot to the ball to nudge it further towards the tryline before it went out of play. And Lewis showed pace to claim the ball and dive over the line as the hosts went 12-0 ahead.
The Sixways side were relentless in the opening ten minutes as they caused Connacht all sorts of problems – and they may have had a third if Chris Pennell had found a few more inches of space to squeeze through when five metres from the line.
The scoring came thick and fast in the opening quarter of the match and, after Pennell was sent to the sin-bin, Connacht captain Muldoon bundled over the line after good work at the scrum from the visiting forward pack.
Warriors one-man disadvantage didn’t seem to restrict the home side’s attacking impetus and they had notched a third try just after the halfway point of the first-half.
The ball was fizzed across the backline, and Adams teed up Humphreys to cruise over in the corner.
But the home defence was vulnerable without Pennell and Warriors were unable to prevent Connacht grabbing their second try of the afternoon a few minutes later as pacey winger Adeolokun weaved his way through the Warriors defence before grounding.
Ronaldson’s conversion cut Warriors’ lead to three points at 17-14 as the attacks looked to be coming out on top in an end-to-end match.
Warriors were producing some of their best attacking rugby of the season in the opening period as they played with freedom and passion.
And they soon found themselves temporarily playing against 13 men after Connacht forwards Quinn Roux and Jarrad Butler were both yellow-carded within minutes of each other just before the break.
Connacht tried to stifle Warriors’ threat as half-time approached – but they just couldn’t handle the in-form Adams, who claimed possession and raced down the left to score a well-deserved try and hand the hosts a try bonus point before the break.
The game became a more attritional affair after the break as the tackles came flying in from both sides.
Ronaldson kept the scoreboard ticking over for the visitors with his first penalty of the afternoon and Warriors were struggling to recreate their first-half attacking display.
Connacht were pinning Warriors back in their own half and went over for their third try just before the hour-mark courtesy of a sublime individual effort from full-back O’Halloran. Ronaldson converted to draw the scores level at 24 apiece and set-up an entertaining final quarter.
Both sides pushed for a try to win the game, but defences held firm as the sides had to settle for a draw.
Warriors | 15 Josh Adams, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Chris Pennell, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Francois Hougaard (Dowsett 63), 1 Ethan Waller (Bower 54), 2 Jack Singleton, 3 Simon Kerrod (Alo 58), 4 Darren Barry, 5 Pierce Phillips (Taylor 70), 6 David Denton, 7 Sam Lewis (Cox 54), 8 GJ van Velze (C)
Replacements | 16 Matti Williams, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Huw Taylor, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Ben Howard
2m | Humphreys try 5-0
3m | Pennell con 7-0
4m | Lewis try 12-0
16m | Muldoon try 12-5
17m | Ronaldson con 12-7
22m | Humphreys try 17-7
26m | Adeolokun try 17-12
27m | Ronaldson con 17-14
38m | Adams try 22-14
40m | Pennell con 24-14
53m | Ronaldson pen 24-17
59m | O’Halloran try 24-22
60m | Ronaldson con 24-24