Highlights & Report | Worcester Warriors 21-36 Exeter Chiefs

It may have not been the perfect ending but this was an emotional day that showed the Warriors Family at its very best.

From the moment a reduced capacity crowd of 4,999 stood to applaud the off-field staff who had worked so hard just to get the game on, to the same staff forming a guard of honour for the players before kick-off to a further minute’s applause for staff by supporters in the 65th minute, this was a club united in adversity.

The players played their part by producing a performance brimming with pride, passion and commitment that had Exeter rattled.

It was a performance that deserved at least one bonus point but which went unrewarded after Jack Maunder’s 72nd minute try put the losing bonus point beyond reach and a knock-on from the very last play of the match also ended the hopes of a try bonus.

In the bigger scheme of things, the rugby was again almost secondary to the fact that the match took place at all after the RFU set a deadline of midday on Friday to satisfy ground safety criteria.

Staff agreed to work tirelessly to get the game on despite still being owed some if not all of their August wages out of loyalty to the players, playing staff and supporters.

All 23 players gave their all to the cause for 80 minutes’ of unstinting effort despite not having played a pre-season friendly and had limited contact training in the three weeks before the start of the season.

It wasn’t perfect, and it was never going to be, but Warriors scored three excellent tries through Alex Hearle, Gareth Simpson and Ollie Lawrence and, with a little more accuracy, it could have been more.

Discipline and a misfiring lineout were factors and Exeter, as usual, were clinical whenever they got a sniff of a try-scoring opportunity.

An sustained attack brought an early try for Exeter full-back Joe Simmonds and another sweeping move saw number eight Richard Capstick go over in the corner.

Lawrence showed some magic footwork in front of watching England Head Coach Eddie Jones to jink out of three tackles and the ball was moved left to Alex Hearle who powered over for a try that Owen Williams converted.

Capstick crossed for his second try on the half hour and Simmonds added the conversion followed by a penalty to give Exeter a 22-7 lead at the break but Warriors hit back magnificently five minutes into the second-half.

Joe Batley showed strength and pace to bash a huge hole in Exeter’s defence before he delivered an inside scoring pass to Simpson who crossed under the posts with Williams adding the extras.

Exeter wing Olly Woodburn had a try chalked off for double movement but play was brought back for an earlier penalty which gave him a second opportunity and this time the try stood.

But Warriors were not finished and they reduced the deficit to eight points when Francois Venter, who had an outstanding game in attack and defence as captain, carried hard and Lawrence finished with Billy Searle converting.

Another score from Warriors would have put them in bonus point territory. Instead Exeter settled the issue when replacement scrum-half Jack Maunder burrowed over from close range.

There was disappointment at the final whistle but Warriors supporters stood to applaud for one last time in recognition of a club effort to be proud of.

In the emotion of the day it was overlooked that two Warriors, Simpson and Searle, both made their 50th appearances for the club.

Warriors | 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys (Heward 58), 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Francois Venter (C), 11 Alex Hearle, 10 Owen Williams (Searle 57), 9 Gareth Simpson (Chudley 74), 1 Valeriy Morozov (Sutherland 18), 2 Curtis Langdon (Faiva 57), 3 Murray McCallum, 4 Joe Batley, 5 Andrew Kitchener G Kitchener 65), 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 7 Cameron Neild, 8 Tom Dodd (Kvesic 57).

Replacements | 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Jay Tyack, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Noah Heward.

4m | Simmonds try 0-5
16m | Capstick try 0-10
17m | Simmonds con 0-12
23m | Hearle try 5-12
24m | Williams con 7-12
32m | Capstick try 7-17
33m | Simmonds con 7-19
38m | Simmonds pen 7-22
45m | Simpson try 12-22
46m | Williams con 14-22
57m | Woodburn try 14-27
58m | Simmonds con 14-29
64m | Lawrence try 19-29
65m | Searle con 21-29
72m | Maunder try 21-34
73m | Simmonds con 21-36

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