16th Jan, 2019

FT: Warriors 23-28 Tigers

Aaron Wise 6th May, 2017

DIRECTOR of rugby Gary Gold praised his side’s battling performance as they pushed Leicester Tigers all the way in a fiery end of season encounter at Sixways on Saturday.

In a closely fought first-half, Leicester scored the game’s opening try when Tom Youngs battered his way across the whitewash in the far corner, before Warriors replied through Chris Pennell, after the ball was recycled to the full-back out wide.

The second half saw Bryce Heem put in a scorching run downfield to ground, before Wynand Olivier burst over in the corner to score, but 23 points from the boot of fly-half Freddie Burns was enough to ensure Tigers claimed the spoils.

In front of a sell-out Sixways, it was the home side who started brighter as they battered their way through the Tigers pack, before Perry Humphreys was held up just ten metres short.

Leicester held their nerve and were soon off the mark courtesy of a penalty from Burns.

Warriors replied through Ryan Mills, who successfully slotted an almighty kick from the halfway line to draw the scores level at 3-3.

Tigers almost regained the lead when Owen Williams found himself wide, but Springbok Francois Hougaard struck him down with a big hit to thwart the danger.

The visitors did regain the advantage, however, as Burns was handed a simple penalty in front of the posts to convert.

Behind the roaring home support, Worcester pushed forward and good play from Joe Taufete’e and skipper Donncha O’Callaghan saw the hosts force their way into Tigers’ 22.

But Leicester regained the ball and cleared their lines, before storming downfield and scoring the game’s opening try through skipper Youngs who bundled over in the far corner, which Burns converted.

Warriors hit back immediately when the ball was played out wide to Pennell who dived over to score, which Mills converted to bring the game back to 13-10.

Tigers extended their narrow advantage before the break with another Burns penalty to leave Worcester six points adrift, but Mills reduced the deficit to three with a penalty on the stroke of half-time, after missing an attempt moments earlier.

The hosts burst out the blocks in the second half and took the lead for the first time when Heem put in a blistering run down the right flank whilst shrugging off Leicester tacklers to score.

Mills missed the conversion leaving the score at 18-16 and the hosts’ slender lead was lost when Burns nailed a drop-goal, before slotting two penalties moments later to edge his side 25-18 ahead.

Entering the final 20 minutes, Mills missed another penalty before Alafoti Faosiliva knocked on just short of the tryline as the game looked to be slipping away from Warriors.

But Marco Mama and Olivier put in some yards before the latter smashed his way over to reduce the deficit to two points.

Mills missed the chance to level the game with the resulting conversion, before Tigers extended their lead to five through Burns as the clock wound down.

Warriors pushed forward one last time in search of a try that would win the game, but they couldn’t break down the resilient Leicester defence and had to settle for a losing bonus point.

Worcester end the 2016/17 campaign with five wins and two draws, leaving them in 11th, which Gold will be looking to build on next season.

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