Duncan Weir was again Warriors’ last-gasp hero as he landed an injury-time penalty to clinch a memorable bonus point victory over the newly-crowned European champions at Sixways.
Saracens appeared to have secured a jittery win when Warriors knocked on with the final play of the match. But Warriors’ pack applied the screw at the scrum. Saracens , who had number eight Ben Earl in the sin bin, were penalised for wheeling and Weir grasped the chance by making a difficult kick look easy.
The win ensured that Warriors finished tenth in the table and sent their departing players on their way with a day to remember.
Cardiff Blues-bound Josh Adams ended his Warriors career as the club’s leading Premiership try-scorer as he crossed for the bonus point try three minutes from time to take his tally to 26, one more than the suspended Bryce Heem.
The win came at the end of another nerve-jangling and compelling contest and an emotional afternoon for the 17 players who will be leaving Sixways, none more so than Jonny Arr and Wynand Olivier.
Arr had the honour of leading out the team and he played his part in the win after he came on as a 66th minute replacement.
World Cup winner Olivier, who is retiring, came out carrying his nine month old daughter Ava and played his part in another brave defensive display in his first Premiership appearance of the season. Olivier was originally due to be on the bench but was promoted to the starting XV when Francois Venter suffered a calf injury in training and the former South Africa international put in a huge 80 minutes’ shift.
Saracens, who fielded a much-changed side to the one that beat Leinster last week, drew first blood when Tom Whiteley landed a seventh minute penalty but Warriors were always dangerous with ball in hand.
With Chris Pennell secure under the high ball, Warriors enjoyed plenty of opportunities to counter-attack and Michael Fatialofa showed his strength and power when he stepped through for his first try for the club.
Duncan Weir added the conversion but Whiteley reduced the gap to a point with is second penalty.
Saracens were then reduced to 14 men for ten minutes when former England wing David Strettle was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on when Warriors appeared to have a scoring overlap.
It was Saracens, against the run of play, who regained the lead when Warriors fumbled as they tried to attack from deep and centre Nick Tompkins snaffled the loose ball and raced away for a try which Whiteley converted.
Warriors responded superbly with Pennell collecting a Saracens box kick from the restart then combining effectively with Josh Adams to exploit the gap where Strettle would have been.
Weir added the conversion but Warriors were caught offside in defence from the restart and Whiteley struck with his third penalty to give Saracens a two points lead at the break.
Whiteley struck again ten minutes into the second half but Warriors were determined to end the season on a high and they hit back when Ted Hill rounded off a period of sustained pressure and Weir added the conversion.
Saracens got a lucky break when a chip ahead bounced kindly for Marcelo Bosch and Whiteley added the extras followed by another penalty.
But Warriors’ never-say-die attitude saw them home again. Adams gathered a long pass from Weir and dotted down in the corner for his final try for the club and Weir slotted the conversion from the touchline.
The penalty that won the match was closer to the target but while the nerves of everyone else were frayed, Weir remained ice cool under pressure.
Adams’ try was Warriors 56th in the Premiership this season which equalled the club’s best in a season. The nine wins also equalled Warriors’ most in the top flight, the best since 2006.
Warriors | 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard (Arr 66), 1 Ethan Waller (Black 66), 2 Niall Annett, 3 Nick Schonert (Milasinovich 47-56 & 66), 4 Anton Bresler, 5 Michael Fatialofa (Kitchener 53), 6 Ted Hill, 7 Cornell du Preez (Lewis 53), 8 GJ van Velze (C).
Replacements | 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Callum Black, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Alex Hearle.
7m | Whiteley pen 0-3
11m | Fatialofa try 5-3
12m | Weir con 7-3
23m | Whiteley pen 7-6
33m | Tompkins try 7-11
34m | Whiteley con 7-13
35m | Pennell try 12-13
36m | Weir con 14-13
37m | Whiteley pen 14-16
50m | Whiteley pen 14-19
55m | Hill try 19-19
56m | Weir con 21-19
60m | Bosch try 21-24
61m | Whiteley con 21-26
69m | Whiteley pen 21-29
76m | Adams try pen 26-29
77m | Weir con 28-29
80m | Weir pen 31-29