Worcester too good for Exiles
October 5, 2008
Miles Benjamin grabbed a brace of tries for the Warriors
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Youngster Miles Benjamin caught the eye of watching England manager Martin Johnson with two tries in a comfortable win. Johnson took his seat in the stand just moments before the kick-off as he looked to run the rule over some of the elite squad that will potentially feature in next month's Tests.
Irish scrum-half Peter Richards was hoping to make an impression in his battle for the England number nine jersey with the rising star of Harlequins, Danny Care. And Shane Geraghty, another, like Richards, to be starting a match for the first time this season, is a potential inside centre along with other elite squad members Riki Flutey and Olly Barkley.
Richards, in particular, began the match well, driving his pack towards the Worcester line in the opening minutes and then rescuing them from a potential try by diving on the ball as the opposition threatened. However, it was a man that Johnson will probably be looking to include somewhere in the national senior teams in the future that made the early impressions.
Worcester wing Benjamin, who was with the England Under-20s during June's World Cup, grabbed the first try of the match when the home side broke into the 22 after a quarter of an hour. Fly-half Matthew Jones threw a long pass to the left wing where Benjamin was waiting to run in from five metres unopposed. He closed in on another try moments later but Irish centre Dominic Shabbo pulled him down.
Geraghty was to blame, though, for a missed tackle on the half-hour as Jones fed Matt Cox inside the 22 for big lock Graham Kitchener to trundle into the corner from 15 metres. It did not help Irish hopes either that fly-half Eoghan Hickey was having an off day with his boot, failing to land two 30-metre penalties in front of the posts, the second coming after Worcester flanker Jake Abbott was sent to the sin-bin for a late tackle.
Worcester survived Abbott's absence without conceding a point as Hickey missed a third shot, from 40 metres, when Benjamin drove in illegally at a ruck. It was certainly no game for the faint hearted as Richards was caught high by Australian full-back Chris Latham, while Irish prop Dan Murphy clattered replacement Charlie Gower.
Eventually, a great piece of opportunism brought Irish their first score when Richards took a quick tap-penalty on the home 10-metre line and dashed 40 metres through the defence to score. Hickey's nightmare afternoon continued, though, as he missed the conversion, his fourth chance of the match.
But the chance of a recovery did not last long as Worcester attacked in the Irish 22 and Jones, having a superb all-round game at number 10, sent the ball to Benjamin, who rounded Irish full-back James Bailey to dive in. Handling errors, though, littered the final quarter as Worcester's pack dominated the set-piece scrums, forcing mistakes where they gained territory without scoring.
The home team searched for the fourth try that would give them a bonus point and a prime qualification place in their pool. And, after some good attempts, replacement centre Loki Crichton finally got the important touchdown as he was put away on the left from 10 metres and beat the tackle of Irish wing Adam Thompstone to stop him.
The home crowd left happy but there was plenty of food for thought to take back down the motorway for London Irish.
Worcester: Latham, Fellows, Grove, Tuitupou, Benjamin, M. Jones, B. Jones, Talei, Abbott, Cox, Gillies, Kitchener, Horsman, Fortey, Morris.
Replacements: Crichton for Latham (67), Carlisle for M. Jones (78), Arr for B. Jones (51), Wood for Talei (63), Rawlinson for Kitchener (63), Ruwers for Horsman (51), Lutui for Fortey (51).
Sin Bin: Abbott (39).
London Irish: Bailey, De Vedia, Shabbo, Geraghty, Thompstone, Hickey, Richards, Thorpe, Danaher, Fisher, Casey, Johnson, Rautenbach, Buckland, D. Murphy.
Not Used: Dermody, Clark, Hala'ufia, S. Armitage, Homer,
Ref: Roy Maybank (Kent).