Worcester Warriors 29-23 London Wasps, Aviva Premiership
Worcester secure vital win against Wasps
March 1, 2013
Report Match details
Date/Time: Mar 1, 2013, 20:00 local, 20:00 GMT
Venue: Sixways, Worcester
Worcester Warriors 29 - 23 Wasps
Attendance: 9214  Half-time: 15 - 6
Tries: Arr, Cowan, Lemi, Pennell
Cons: Goode, Gray 2
Pens: Goode
Tries: Johnson, Thomas, Wallace
Cons: Robinson
Pens: Robinson 2
Worcester secured a valuable four-try bonus point against Wasps
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Tournaments/Tours: Aviva Premiership

Worcester recorded their first Aviva Premiership victory since Christmas and dented Wasps' play-off prospects in the process with a >29-23 win in their clash at Sixways.

The Warriors' run of five successive league defeats deservedly ended after first-half tries from Chris Pennell and David Lemi underpinned an impressive performance. Worcester effectively ended any lingering relegation fears by moving 13 points above bottom club Sale Sharks with just five games left, as number eight Blair Cowan's 60th-minute touchdown left Wasps reeling before scrum-half Jonny Arr's close-range effort secured a first bonus point Premiership victory for five months.

Fly-half Andy Goode chipped in with a penalty and conversion before going off injured, while his replacement Danny Gray added two conversions to nullify touchdowns by Wasps hooker Rhys Thomas, flanker Ashley Johnson and substitute Jack Wallace.

Wasps, in fifth place before kick-off, were left to ponder a second Premiership reversal of the week after they lost against London Irish last Sunday, despite fly-half Nicky Robinson keeping them in touch through two penalties and a conversion.

Ultimately, though, Worcester were too organised and too aggressive at the contact area for their visitors, while also displaying some impressive finishing power.

Worcester handed Pennell full-back duties instead of the suspended Errie Claassens, who was sent off for tripping an opponent in last week's defeat against Gloucester. Wasps, meanwhile, could not call on their prolific try-scoring wing Christian Wade due to an ankle injury, so Elliot Daly moved from midfield as his replacement and Italy international Andrea Masi returned after Six Nations duty last weekend at outside centre.

Goode and Robinson exchanged early penalties before the former Wales international nudged Wasps ahead to round off a spell of concerted early pressure that should have seen the visitors further ahead. Worcester, though, were undeterred by Wasps' opening and they stung their opponents with two well-crafted tries in nine minutes.

Pennell pounced for the first, rounding off a slick move to touch down wide out, and even though Goode missed the conversion attempt, Worcester were quickly back on the attack. Wasps found it difficult to cope with the midfield driving work of players like Warriors flankers Neil Best and Matt Kvesic, and Worcester camped inside their opponents' 22.

Wasps could not clear the danger, and when Goode produced a moment of magic by kicking exquisitely into space, Lemi caught it and crossed near the posts. Goode added the extras on this occasion and Worcester's fired-up forwards had gained their reward for some outstanding work, with Warriors nine points clear and in control.

Wasps could not escape from inside their own territory - dangerous runners like Masi and wing Tom Varndell hardly saw the ball - and Worcester enjoyed a vice-like grip on proceedings that their lowly league position belied.

With Goode teasing the Wasps defence through his range of tactical kicking, Worcester continued to dominate and they trooped off 15-6 ahead after Robinson missed a long-range penalty attempt deep into injury time, but the Londoners stirred within four minutes of the restart, pinning Worcester back in defence and creating enough space for Thomas to power over.

It was just what Wasps needed, giving themselves an immediate route back into a contest that had seen them play second fiddle throughout the opening half, and then Worcester lost Goode when he limped off before Warriors wing Josh Drauniniu was sin-binned. It looked a harsh yellow card - referee Greg Garner punished Drauniniu for what he ruled was a deliberate knock-on - and Wasps capitalised immediately on his absence.

The visiting forwards moved to within sight of Worcester's line and Johnson claimed a try that put Wasps ahead by one point before Robinson converted.

Lemi then produced a try-saving tackle on Thomas as the game was cranked up in terms of tension and intensity, before Gray missed an easy penalty shot following Johnson's high tackle on Warriors prop Matt Mullan. It was a bad error by Gray, but Masi then went to the sin-bin for tackling Worcester substitute John Andress off the ball and Worcester ruthlessly punished their opponents.

The forwards kept things tight, patiently going through the phases before space was created out wide and Arr sliced through a gap to score. Gray booted the conversion and Worcester were home and dry, although Wasps had the final say when Wallace's score clinched a losing bonus point.

Worcester boss Richard Hill praised an outstanding team performance by his side that meant they saw off Wasps 29-23 and sent Worcester 13 points above bottom club Sale Sharks.

"There was a coming together of set-piece, attack and defence," Hill said. "All three areas were pretty good and you could see it in the players' eyes before the game that this was a game they were determined to win.

"It was about time all parts of our game came together and there was a real excitement in the team. The intent was there to try to score tries. The talk was about this being the time of the season to hit form. We just felt tonight was the night to put it all together."

Wasps, in fifth place before kick-off, were left to ponder a second Premiership reversal of the week after they lost against London Irish last Sunday, despite fly-half Nicky Robinson keeping them in touch through two penalties and a conversion.

"We spoke at half-time that it was important to go out and score first and get ourselves back in the game," Wasps assistant coach Trevor Woodman said. "We managed that and we got our noses in front, and then there was a period of three penalties and they were suddenly camped on our five-metre line.

"But we finished strongly and made sure we came away with something in terms of a losing bonus point."

Blair Cowan scored a vital try for Worcester © Getty Images
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