17th Feb, 2020

All or Nothing for Warriors in Castres clash

Rob George 16th Jan, 2020

WARRIORS will face French outfit and current pool leaders Castres Olympique under the Sixways lights on Friday night with a place in the knockout stage of the European Challenge Cup on offer to the victors.

Three points separate the top three in Pool One going into the final group games.

Warriors’ 66-10 demolition of Enisei-STM last Saturday means victory for either the hosts or Castres will put them through to the quarter-finals.

In the other pool game, former Warriors boss Dean Ryan’s Dragons look certain to beat winless Russian outfit Enisei to qualify.

Alan Solomons’ Worcester will need to record a victory and a bonus point against Castres to make absolutely certain of a second quarter-final spot in two years after last year’s run to the last eight which saw Warriors felled by Harlequins.

Warriors went down 17-9 in France in November and will hope their form at fortress Sixways continues into the new decade. Exeter Chiefs remain the only side to emerge from Sixways victorious so far in the 2019/20 campaign.

Friday’s kick-off is 8pm.

Solomons’ men set up the straight shoot-out with a ten-try victory over the Russian champions at Sixways last weekend.

A hat-trick of tries from Ollie Lawrence inside ten first-half minutes set Warriors on the way to the bonus point they needed and Noah Heward embellished the win with two tries after the break to take his tally to three in two senior appearances. Warriors’ 50th European victory came in their first match since lock Michael Fatialofa sustained his neck injury at Saracens. Warriors’ players made it clear that their stricken colleague was in their thoughts as they had ‘Fats’ written on the back of their training tops and ‘MF’ on their match shirts.

Scott van Breda scythed through with a powerful diagonal which took him all the way to the line and Jamie Shillcock levered over the conversion from the touchline to put Warriors ahead.

But Enisei were level within four minutes, with fly-half Ramil Gaisin finding left wing Bjorn Basson with a pinpoint accurate kick and full-back Earll Douwrie finishing the attack. Gaisin added the extras and then kicked an easy penalty after Warriors went offside in defence which gave Enisei the lead, but only briefly.

Lawrence then got to work, expertly finishing an attack in which left wing Nick David was prominent for his first try.

David again helped to stretch Enisei’s defence for Lawrence’s second and the hat-trick try soon followed after

Lawrence hit the line at pace and collected a short pass from Shillcock to secure the bonus point.

The result was never in doubt after that and Warriors took the opportunity to entertain after the break. They added six unanswered tries to rattle up their biggest win of the season.

Marco Mama drove over from close range, Shillcock scored and converted his own try and Isaac Miller dotted down after James Scott had charged down a clearance kick near the line.

Heward collected a long pass from Shillcock to score his first try, Will Butler marked his return from an ankle injury with the ninth try and Heward scored from the restart, racing over from long range for an outstanding try.

Shillcock, who controlled the game superbly from fly-half, finished with a haul of 21 points to add to the 27 he scored against Enisei in Kranosdar in November.

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