Worcester hit the Gold standard to near safety
BRAVE Worcester pulled off a sensational victory to virtually assure their Premiership future and put a massive dent in Bath’s title hopes.
Trailing 10-6 at the break, second half tries from Josh Adams, Wynand Olivier and Will Spencer gave Warriors their first victory over Bath in nine attempts, extending the gap between them and basement outfit Bristol to 12 points.
Huge credit goes to interim rugby director Gary Gold, who has transformed the mood at Sixways since his arrival in January. While insisting the job is not yet done, the South African revealed he will consider extending his stay.
Gold said: “It was a brave performance. Our pack laid a good foundation and I was really proud of our attacking intent in trying to go for a fourth try at the end.
“We’re not safe and it would be unbelievably arrogant to think that, because Bristol have two of their last three games at home and could do anything. But if we get through this fight I would definitely chat to the club about the future.”
A vibrant start by Worcester saw Perry Humphreys go close before Chris Vui nicked a lineout. Bath repelled the drive before George Ford and Jonathan Joseph combined to send Anthony Watson clear, but he was smashed into touch by Chris Pennell.
Pennell hammered into Watson again, forcing a penalty, but Warriors butchered good field position when Biyi Alo knock on. Alo then compounded his error by conceding a penalty from which Ford nudged Bath ahead.
Warriors should have scored when Humphreys streaked down the left and sent Sam Lewis clear, but the flanker lost control.
Watson dealt alertly with a Humphreys chip and chase and Taulupe Faletau forced a crucial turnover by holding up Donncha O’Callaghan in the tackle, before Bath’s pack won a scrum penalty to relieve intense Warriors pressure.
Mills’ penalty drew Worcester level but their joy was brief as England centre Ben Te’o had a moment to forget when Matt Banahan waltzed through a halfhearted tackle to score from Ford’s cut-out pass.
Mills landed a monster penalty to reduce the deficit to 10-6 at the interval, but Ford restored Bath’s advantage after the restart.
Worcester responded when Joe Taufete’e and Will Spencer punched large holes in Bath’s rearguard and the home side bagged a deserved first try when Te’o offloaded to Jackson Willison, who sent Adams roaring over.
Mills failed to convert and then fluffed a penalty to put his side ahead, but he soon made amends by ushering Olivier through a gap for Worcester’s second try after Vui had claimed Taufete’s long lineout throw.
Bath recovered their composure to nick a critical lineout and Ford’s third penalty reduced the arrears to two just points.
A frantic finish ensued as Warriors went for the jugular and, after turning down three shots at goal, Te’o, Pennell and Mills were held short before Francois Hougaard’s quick tap sent Spencer over.
Ford’s late penalty salvaged a bonus point for Bath.
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