Worcester hit the Gold stan­dard to near safety

The Rugby Paper - - Aviva Premiership - ■ By NEALE HAR­VEY

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.

Tongue-twister: Fran­cois Hougaard spins the ball out for War­riors Break­away: Matt Bana­han pow­ers through to score

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