Warriors weathered two storms on an emotional night at Sixways to complete a league and cup double over Bristol Bears.
The match survived after Sixways was buffeted by Storm Eunice during the day and Warriors then withstood a fightback by Bristol to clinch a first win since Steve Diamond took charge.
First-half tries from Duhan van der Merwe and acting-captain Ashley Beck gave Warriors the initiative but Bristol hit back with two close range tries which meant it was all square at the break.
A battering ram try from Sione Vailanu five minutes into the second-half proved to be the match-turning score and Warriors then dug in for victory with Gareth Simpson and Fin Smith controlling the game from half-back and the front-row winning a succession of penalties which kept Bristol on the retreat.
The match preceded by a minute’s applause for Jack Jeffery, the Evesham wing who tragically lost his life after sustaining injuries in scoring a try against Berkswell & Balsall last Saturday.
Jack’s father Glenn, mother Angi, sister Daisy and twin brother Charlie and the entire Evesham squad were all present at Sixways to celebrate his life.
Glenn, Daisy and Charlie joined the Evesham squad on the pitch for the minute’s silence and the whole family were then invited into the home dressing room after the final to meet the celebrating Warriors players.
The minute’s applause may have been motivation for Warriors who hit Bristol with 14 points in the opening quarter with van der Merwe latching on to a delicious right foot grubber kick from Jamie Shillcock to touch down.
Fin Smith added the conversion from the touchline despite a difficult swirling wind and did the same from the opposite side of the pitch after Beck finished off a period of sustained pressure.
But Warriors then gave away ten penalties in the second quarter and Bristol applied the punishment with Steven Luatua and Max Lahiff both going over from close range after penalties were kicked to the corner.
Callum Sheedy converted both but Warriors resisted a further attack late in the first-half and improved their discipline after the break when they gave away only one further penalty.
Shillcock missed the second period having sustained an ankle injury but Billy Searle proved a more than capable penalty and he put in a try-saving tackle on Alapati Leiua late on when Bristol threatened to break away.
Vailanu’s try, after a clever show-and-go from Simpson unlocked the defence gave Warriors the advantage and although he departed injured midway through the second-half, which meant Isaac Miller had to play in the back-row, Warriors showed character and determination to nail down an important win.
Warriors | 15 Jamie Shillcock (Searle 41), 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Alex Hearle, 12 Ashley Beck (C), 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Gareth Simpson (Chudley 67), 1 Murray McCallum (Waller 58), 2 Niall Annett, 3 Christian Judge Tyack 78), 4 Matt Garvey (A Kitchener 58), 5 Graham Kitchener (Clegg 58), 6 Joe Batley, 7 Matt Kvesic, 8 Sione Vailanu (Miller 63).
Replacements | 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Jay Tyack, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Justin Clegg, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Seb Atkinson.
5m | van der Merwe try 5-0
6m | Smith con 7-0
19m | Beck try 12-0
20m | Smith con 14-0
26m | Luatua con 14-5
27m | Sheedy con 14-7
29m | Lahiff try 14-12
30m | Sheedy con 14-14
45m | Vailanu try 19-14
- Thank you to Adam Hewitt Ltd, Warriors’ Title Partner and Front of Shirt Sponsor, for being today’s Match Sponsor. For more information, please visit their website: www.adamhewitt.com
- Thank you to Parweld Ltd for being today’s match ball sponsor. For more information, please visit their website: https://www.parweld.co.uk/