Tigers secured their second straight victory in the LV Cup on Friday night as they held off a late fight back by a determined Worcester to win 21-18 at Sixways.
Tigers scored two tries through Michael Noone and a penalty try from a scrum, with the balance of the points coming from Welshman Owen Williams’s boot. The Warriors in contrast were profligate with the boot missing 3 conversions and as many penalties, in such a close game it is hardly cutting edge insight to suggest this was this was the reason for the loss.
Tigers have a terrific record against Worcester with 18 wins out of 20 going into the game and the last loss being back in 2008. The Warriors are the only current Premiership side to have never won at Welford Road and this win puts the streak back to 2008 at 10 games.
But the Worcester side looked set to break that streak after going 10-0 up after only 16 minutes. First it was former Tigers centre Andy Symons with the long range penalty that dropped short. I never saw Symons kick at goal for the Extras so this talent has been well hidden, or perhaps sensibly discouraged. But the north London giant made up for it by finishing off Max Stelling’s break for the first try, then turning provider for Jake Abbott’s second.
The first was from a quality piece of centre play by Max Stelling. Stelling beat the on rushing Purdy the grubbered through to keep the move alive. Symons claimed the loose ball on the floor and the ball went through multiple phases before that man Symons popped up on the wing for the finish.
For the 2nd try Henry Purdy simply failed to catch an up and under on halfway, Symons beat everyone to the bouncing ball, drew the last man and turned it inside to Abbott for the run in.
Owen Williams had struck the post with his first kick at goal but made amends as he guided Tigers back to 10-9 at half time. His first penalty was for a ruck offence and the second when Worcester were offside.
As in the Premiership fixture in September Sam Betty was given a ten minute rest by the referee, this time for killing the ball. Tigers went for the scrum and were close to the try when Williams slotted the drop goal with clock past 40. This was the first drop goal by a Tigers player for almost 2 years; the last? Geordan Murphy’s match winner away to Saracens in February 2012.
Quickly after half time Worcester thought they had a 3rd try but it was ruled out for a forward pass and it was Tigers who grabbed the next score through Michael Noone, scoring his 4th in 5 games. Noone went in at the corner after blindside work by Mele and quick hands from Jordan Crane.
Worcester’s Warwick was finally on the board with the boot in the 52nd minute but Tigers stretched their lead again with our old friend the penalty try making an appearance. Outsized openside Jamie Gibson burst through a weak tackle from a Worcester replacement and charged to with a yard of the line. A piled up ruck saw Tigers awarded the scrum; the pack turned the screw and the result was inevitable.
That was the winning score although Worcester was by no means done. The last try was scored by Christian Scotland-Williamson sneaking into the corner after a lineout. Former Tigers trialist Ignacio Mieres missed the quickly taken drop goal conversion. There was time for one last attack but a cover tackle from debutant Pasqualle Dunn snuffed out any danger; in Worcester’s attempts to go wide the ball went to ground for Benjamin to hack into touch and end the game.