Worcester survive Bedford scare
May 1, 2011
Worcester No.8 Kai Horstmann scored the winner at Sixways © Getty Images
Worcester survived a major scare to book their place in the Championship final, beating Bedford 23-22 at Sixways on Sunday to keep alive their hopes of promotion to the Aviva Premiership.
The Warriors, beaten only once in the regular season, trailed until moments before the end, when skipper Kai Horstmann crashed over from a five-metre scrum to give replacement Joe Carlisle the winning conversion.
The result could have had a major impact on the Premiership run-in, as a Worcester defeat would have signalled the survival of relegation-threatened Leeds and Newcastle. The Warriors are the only side vying for promotion due to the stringent Premiership entry criteria, with Bristol and Nottingham, the other clubs to apply for auditing, already out.
Bedford raced into a huge lead early on thanks to Edd Thrower's try and the boot of Canadian winger James Pritchard, who finished with 17 points, but Worcester secured a foothold thanks to a sparkling break by fullback Tom Arscott and finish by fly-half Andy Goode, making it 19-13 at the break.
Pritchard edged Bedford further ahead from the tee in the second-half, but Goode was able to respond with a penalty of his own to maintain the home side's chances prior to a helter-skelter finish. The Blues lost Sam Walsh to the bin on 69 minutes and Worcester eventually capitalised through Horstmann, much to the relief of Graham Kitchener.
The England Saxons lock had moments earlier raced in to score but celebrated too early and dropped the ball in-goal. Amid the celebrations for Horstmann's try Kitchener also saw yellow for a dust-up with Blues replacement Sean Tomes, completing an afternoon to forget for the promising second-rower.
Worcester will now face Cornish Pirates in the two-legged final after the southerners saw off London Welsh 18-10 at the Mennaye on Sunday.
Welsh led at the break in an intriguing contest, with lock Matt Corker's try giving them the advantage in terrible conditions. Gordon Ross landed the conversion and a penalty for Phil Greening's side, but they were overturned in the second-half as the home side hit their straps.
Veteran scrum-half Gavin Cattle was the difference between the teams, scoring his side's first try before his quick feet created the gap for winger Rhodri McAtee to score in the corner at the death.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.