Report & Highlights | Warriors 52-39 Connacht

Warriors made an impressive start to the build-up to the new Gallagher Premiership season with a victory in and fast and furious friendly that produced 13 tries and 91 points.

Warriors edged the try count 7-6 but victory was more comfortable than that margin suggests as Connacht scored half of their tries in the final ten minutes after Head Coach Jonathan Thomas had changed an entire side.

There was plenty for a crowd of 1,658 – the first at Sixways without restrictions in 18 months – to get excited about including the goal kicking of Owen Williams and Billy Searle – who each had a 100 per cent record – powerful displays from Matt Garvey and Christian
Judge and a first appearance of the year for Melani Nanai following his recovery from a torn hamstring.

It was a typical pre-season affair, frenetic at times with errors at both hands and also things for Warriors to work on before next Friday’s visit by Glasgow Warriors for The Clash.

But the win was reward for a committed and ambitious performance against a quality Connacht side and there were solid performances across the squad of 30 who got game time, including Academy players Ollie Wynn and Jack Forsythe.

Only seven points separated the sides at half-time after Warriors had the made the perfect start with Nanai scoring the opening try after eight minutes of his comeback game.

A fast and flowing attack gave Noah Heward space on the right and the young wing made ground before delivering a superb pass by off-loading to Nanai in the tackle.

Owen Williams made a difficult conversion from the right hand touchline look ridiculously easy but Connacht were on level terms again within five minutes.

Warriors were twice penalised close to the line and from the second offence lock Niall Murphy crashed over with fly-half Jack Carty adding the extras.

Seven minutes later Warriors were ahead again with another well-worked team try which was started and finished by Ethan Waller with Williams adding the conversion followed by a penalty.

Connacht continued to play their part in an entertaining contest but were regularly frustrated by Oli Morris who put in a series of bone-crunching tackles in midfield.

But Warriors undid some of their good work by conceding three penalties in quick succession which enabled Carty to reduce the deficit to seven points with a penalty just before the break.

Warriors scored within two minutes of the restart when Heward scythed through Connacht’s defence and scrum-half Gareth Simpson arrived in support to race over for a try that Searle, who replaced Williams at the break, improved.

Connacht replied with an unconverted try from flanker Conor Oliver almost from the restart and the tit-for-tat sequence continued with Simpson catching the Irishmen out with a quick tapped penalty that put Sam Lewis over.

Back came Connacht with wing Matt Healy collecting a crossfield kick for another unconverted try but Warriors’ finishing was deadly when they scored three tries in a decisive 15 minutes period to go 25 points clear.

First Alex Hearle gathered a loose ball and raced over from inside his own half for a well-taken opportunist try, then Tom Howe scored from close range shortly after he had come on as a replacement to finish a sustained attack.

Howe then got a boot to another loose ball which sat up nicely for Jamie Shillcock who sprinted away for what proved to be Warriors’ last try.

Connacht finished strongly with Oisin Dowling, Tiernan O’Halloran and Jonny Murphy scoring late tries when the game became unstructured.

Warriors | 15 Melani Nanai (Shillcock 59), 14 Noah Heward (Howe 59), 13 Oli Morris (Hearle 41), 12 Francois Venter (C) (Butler 59), 11 Harri Doel (Humphreys 59), 10 Owen Williams (Searle 41), 9 Gareth Simpson (Wynn 66), 1 Ethan Waller (Thomas 55), 2 Niall Annett (Miller 55), 3 Christian Judge (Owlett 55), 4 Matt Garvey (Kitchener 56), 5 Justin Clegg (Scott 66), 6 Tom Dodd (Batley 41), 7 Sam Lewis (Vailanu 50), 8 Matt Kvesic (Forsythe 70).

Backs | Jamie Shillcock, Perry Humphreys, Alex Hearle, Seb Atkinson, Will Butler, Tom Howe, Billy Searle, Ollie Wynn.
Forwards | Marc Thomas, Isaac Miller, Jack Owlett, James Scott, Graham Kitchener, Joe Batley, Jack Forsythe, Sione Vailanu.

8m | Nanai try 5-0
9m | Williams con 7-0
13m | Murray try 7-5
14m | Carty con 7-7
20m | Waller try 12-7
21m | Williams con 14-7
26m | Williams pen 17-7
36m | Carty pen 17-10
42m | Simpson try 22-10
43m | Searle con 24-10
44m | Oliver try 24-15
49m | Lewis try 29-15
50m | Searle con 31-15
53m | Healy try 31-20
55m | Hearle try 36-20
56m | Searle con 38-20
64m | Howe try 43-20
65m | Searle con 45-20
69m | Shillcock try 50-20
70m | Searle con 52-20
71m | Dowling try 52-25
72m | Fitzgerald con 52-27
74m | O’Halloran try 52-32
80m | Murphy try 52-37
80m | Fitzgerald con 52-39

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