Warriors made a flying start to the new Gallagher Premiership with a bonus point victory in high-octane contest that entertained supporters on their return to Sixways after 18 months of COVID-19 restrictions.
It may have not been a perfect performance but it was the result that mattered most and Warriors thoroughly deserved the win for showing ambition in attack and bravery in defence which was tested by a tough Irish side.
There was no better way to banish the memories of last season than to start the new one with victory with a bonus point the cherry on the top.
Seven of the club’s summer recruits were included in the matchday squad and all contributed to an outstanding team performance.
Willi Heinz marked his competitive debut with a try and set up another for Matt Kvesic from an interception while his half-back partner Owen Williams pulled the strings at fly-half.
The Wales international landed five of his six kicks at goal in a personal haul of 11 points with the penalty he kicked midway through the second half proving decisive as it left Irish three converted tries adrift.
Williams’ accuracy contrasted with the fortunes of his opposite number Paddy Jackson who was off target with a penalty and two conversions, misses which cost his side a losing bonus point.
Williams also produced a sensational 50:22 kick in first half injury-time which set up the position from which Melani Nanai crossed for a try that gave Warriors a 14 points cushion.
Warriors also had to come from behind after Irish left wing Ollie Hassell-Collins crossed on the overlap after a sustained attack but Jackson was unable to add the conversion.
The lead lasted only ten minutes before Warriors kicked a penalty to the corner, Ted Hill claimed the lineout and the pack drove Sam Lewis over for the try which Williams improved.
Irish appeared certain to reclaim the lead on the half-hour when they were awarded a scrum penalty that was well within Jackson’s range but the normally accurate Ireland international put his kick wide.
Irish then went down to 14 men for ten minutes when scrum-half Ben White was sin-binned for making contact with Kvesic’s head in a tackle and Warriors made the most of their numerical advantage by scoring 12 unanswered points in that time.
Heinz tapped and ran a free kick and outpaced the cover defence to dot down in the corner. There were only 43 seconds of the first half on the clock when Irish took the restart kick but that was time enough for Williams to put in his booming touch kick.
With the countdown clock in red, Warriors won the lineout and built the pressure with Francois Venter’s neat inside pass setting up Nanai for the try which Williams improved.
Irish hit back strongly early in the second half with Albert Tuisue being driven over from close range but Jackson again missed a kickable conversion.
Warriors responded with Heinz’s interception which took him almost to the line. Kvesic arrived in support from close range to touch down to secure the try bonus point.
Williams added the extras followed by a penalty before Irish replacement tighthead Ollie Hoskins burrowed over for the first of two close range tries.
But Warriors remained ambitious in attack and when they stripped Irish of possession at a maul just inside their own half they had the vision to spot Irish had only forward covering the left wing.
Perry Humphreys needed no second invitation to accelerate away for a thrilling try, followed by another Williams conversion which started the celebrations for a win that was well worth the wait.
Warriors | 15 Melani Nanai (Shillcock 46), 14 Noah Heward, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Owen Williams (Morris 74), 9 Willi Heinz (CC) (Chudley 53), 1 Ethan Waller (Thomas 45), 2 Scott Baldwin (Annett 65), 3 Christian Judge (Owlett 59), 4 Kyle Hatherell (Garvey 43), 5 Justin Clegg (Kitchener 57), 6 Ted Hill (CC), 7 Sam Lewis, 8 Matt Kvesic.
Replacements | 16 Niall Annett, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Jack Owlett, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Graham Kitchener, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Oli Morris.
7m | Hassell-Collins try 0-5
17m | Lewis try 5-5
18m | Williams con 7-5
38m | Heinz try 12-5
40m | Nanai try 17-5
40m | Williams con 19-5
45m | Tuisue try 19-10
52m | Kvesic try 24-10
53m | Williams con 26-10
63m | Williams pen 29-10
64m | Hoskins try 29-15
65m | Jackson con 29-17
68m | Humphreys try 34-17
69m | Williams con 36-17
73m | Hoskins try 36-22
74m | Jackson con 36-24
- Thank you to today’s Match Sponsor Adam Hewitt Ltd (adam.hewitt.com)