24th Jul, 2019

Hammond's heroics earn home Harlequins tie

Rob George 23rd Jan, 2019

WORCESTER Warriors will face an all-Gallagher Premiership tie against Harlequins at Sixways in the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals on the final weekend of March.

Warriors secured a place in the knockout stages for the first time since 2009 with their breathless 36-31 victory over Stade Francais at Sixways on Saturday.

Wins for Sale Sharks and Connacht later in the day settled the placings in Pool Three and decided Warriors’ opponents for their first knockout game in a decade.

Having already qualified for the latter stages, the Sixways side secured home advantage with another last-gasp victory secured by Dean Hammond’s dramatic try.

It looked like Warriors would have to travel in the knockout stages when they trailed 14-28 at half-time but they staged a superb second-half fightback to claim a third successive last-minute win.

Warriors again had to dig deep but their belief and persistence got them home in a vastly-improved second-half performance which produced four tries, three in the last six minutes.

It appeared that Warriors would have to settle for a draw when Tom Howe crossed for his second try of the match with two minutes to go and Chris Pennell was unable to add a difficult conversion from the right hand touchline.

But Stade gave away a penalty when normal playing time was up, Ryan Mills kicked to the corner, Warriors won the lineout and, just as they had against Bath two weeks ago, retained their composure to send Hammond over on the overlap for a match-winning try.

Speaking to Warriors TV after the game, Howe said: “I don’t know what it is with us and Stade Francais but it was another nail-biter.

“When we got the score level we said we needed to secure the kick-off but we kept our heads even when they kicked for the lead and a great kick from Ryan Mills got us in their 22.

“Once there we knew we had to convert; it didn’t matter how long there was on the clock, we had to win the game.

“The home support was massive and got us over the line.”

Should Warriors emerge triumphant against Quins they will face either Clermont Auvergne or Northampton Saints in the semi final of the competition in April. If Clermont win, Warriors will make the trip to France but Worcester will host the East Midlands side should the Saints emerge on top.

Warriors return to action next Saturday (February 3) when they face Wasps in the Premiership Rugby Cup at Sixways (kick-off 3pm) in a bid for semi-final place.

The Sixways side top Pool Two having beaten Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers and secured a try bonus point at Saracens in their first three matches.

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