Warriors 17-18 Northampton Saints
AN IMPRESSIVE 18 points from the boot of Stephen Myler was enough to see Northampton Saints defeat Warriors in dramatic fashion at Sixways on Friday night.
More than 8,000 fans turned up to watch a Warriors side which included the return of winger Cooper Vuna and centre Ryan Mills.
And those fans were treated when, after a penalty apiece, South African Dean Hammond darted through a stunned Saints defence for the game’s first try.
The match then ensued in a kicking battle which saw Warriors lead at the interval 10-9.
After the break, the low-scoring affair continued as both teams struggled to gain momentum.
But ultimately, Myler’s on form kicking was enough to end Warriors’ run of three matches unbeaten at Sixways, despite an heroic late try from Bryce Heem.
The match started brightly for Warriors as they forced their way upfield and scored an early penalty through Jamie Shillcock, but Saints replied from the boot of Myler.
The hosts pushed forward again from the restart and bagged the opening try of the match, when Hammond found a gap in the Saints defence and burst across the whitewash untouched.
The visitors looked to Myler to close the gap to four points when they were given a penalty in front of the posts, but the fly-half scuffed the kick wide.
The match ebbed to-and-fro as both teams looked to gain control of proceedings, but after a spell of pressure it was the visitors who kept the scoreboard ticking over when Myler redeemed himself by successfully slotting a close-range penalty.
The Northampton fly-half then edged his side to within one point with another penalty, this time from long distance, just before half-time.
Entering the second half, Saints went close to scoring their first try following a break in midfield, but Chris Pennell was on hand to make a last-ditch crunching tackle.
But despite no tries for the visitors, they edged ahead at 12-10 following a fourth Myler penalty.
Warriors were then reduced to 14 men when Mills was sin-binned for putting his hands in the ruck after it was formed.
After another Myler penalty, the hosts thought they had done enough to regain the lead when it appeared Val Rapava Ruskin had grounded, but after a closer look, the loosehead prop was seen to be just short.
Myler seemed to have denied the hosts a losing bonus point when he converted his sixth penalty of the match late on, but a last gasp effort from Heem kept the game alive.
Shillcock added the extras and when Saints’ Calum Clark was yellow carded for a foul during the try, the young Warriors fly-half had the chance to win the game from a penalty restart on the halfway line.
But his effort fell agonisingly wide to the right, rounding off a drama fuelled night under the floodlights.
Warriors travel to Devon to take on Exeter Chiefs next Saturday (kick-off 4.30pm).