Rugby returned to Sixways for the first time this season and the smiles were back on the faces of supporters at the end of another week of uncertainty thanks to a performance of guts and character in this Allianz Cup match.
It was only confirmed on Friday afternoon that the match would go ahead after Warriors staff worked tirelessly to satisfy criteria set by the RFU.
The women’s team repaid that hard work with a hard-earned but deserved victory that was secured by a brilliant late individual try from fly-half Abi Kershaw who slipped a couple of tackles and had the pace and strength to beat another would-be tackler before she dotted down.
There was still work to be done before Warriors could celebrate victory but passionate and committed defence in the dying minutes blunted Harlequins’ repeated attacks and when replacement scrum-half Tori Sellors booted the ball into the East Stand seats with time up, the celebrations started.
Warriors’ players applauded spectators and staff alike after the final whistle and before the game they also reciprocated the applause of staff who formed a tunnel as they ran on to the pitch.
It was a gesture that reflected the togetherness of the playing and non-playing staff in adversity and set the tone for an emotional afternoon.
Two penalties from full-back Cat McNaney gave Warriors the advantage in a tight first-half in which they tackled like demons and repeatedly forced Harlequins into handling mistakes.
The lead was wiped out within three minutes of the second half when Harlequins worked wing Freya Aucken over for a try that Ellie Green converted.
It was almost two tries in three minutes when Emily Scott broke free but Warriors got players back in numbers to put in a smothering tackle that prevented the full-back from grounding the ball even though she got over the line.
Instead it was Warriors who regained the lead when tighthead prop Flo Long bulldozed her way over from an attacking lineout with three tacklers trying in vain to deny her.
Harlequins responded with a penalty from Green that nudged them two points ahead but Kershaw’s moment of brilliance had supporters on their feet again shortly after they had risen for a minute’s applause for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in the 70th minute.
University of Worcester Warriors | 15 Cat McNane, 14 Hannah Bluck (England 41), 13 Carys Cox, 12 Megan Varley (CC) (Brough 41), 11 Vicky Laflin, 10 Abi Kershaw, 9 Jess Kershaw Sellors 73), 1 Stef Evans (Tremelling 66), 2 El Febrey, 3 Flo Long, 4 Amelia Buckland (Shermer 62), 5 Siobhan McCarthy, 6 Cara Brincat, 7 Charlotte Wright Haley (Moss 73), 8 Jo Brown (CC).
Replacements | 16 Carmen Tremelling, 18 Catherine Wells, 19 Elizabeth Shermer, 20 Jemima Moss, 21 Tori Sellors, 22 Leagh Brough, 23 Evie England.
19m | McNaney pen 3-0
30m | McNaney pen 6-0
43m | Auken try 6-5
44m | Green con 6-7
50m | Green pen 6-10
54m | Long try 11-10
69m | Green pen 11-13
74m | A Kershaw try 16-13