Worcester storm back to beat 11-man Bath an amazing 18 minutes into added time
The clock showed 98 minutes when Duncan Weir stepped up with the last kick of this extraordinary game to give his Worcester side a priceless victory over 11-man Bath.
Weir converted Bryce Heem’s second try of the afternoon as the Warriors finally made the most of their numerical advantage in one of the more remarkable finishes the Gallagher Premiership has seen. By that stage Bath – who led 19-3 at half-time – had hooker Ross Batty sent off and Max Lahiff, Lucas Noguera and Aled Brew all followed him to the sidelines after being shown yellow cards.
It allowed Heem to tie the scores and Scotland international Weir nailed the conversion to steal what could prove to be a vital Worcester success in their battle to avoid relegation.
Warriors director of rugby Alan Solomons said: “I’ve not seen anything like that. I’ve been coaching for a long time and I’ve seen it go both ways at the death. It went on and on, but the boys held in there and Duncan held his nerve with the kick.
“It’s going to do a lot for the confidence of the players. We were in trouble at half time, so to come back and win means we can draw positives. The Premiership is a marathon, not a sprint. It was important to get this win and come out of this block with points. There is a long way to go and we know that the competition is very tight.”
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder labelled referee Ian Tempest’s decision-making “interesting” after his team conceded 14 second-half penalties to Worcester’s one and had four players carded.
“It’s a new one and I’ve not been involved in something like that before,” Blackadder said. We’ll go back and have a look at it all and try and work out what the hell happened. I can understand some of the decisions, but others will be very interesting to have another look at. Aled’s yellow card was for offside, but if it was cynical it should have been a penalty try so that’s interesting. Some of the penalties we deserved as they put us under pressure.”
Bath were good value for their 19-3 interval lead. Freddie Burns kicked three early penalties to one from Weir as Worcester’s Michael Fatialofa saw yellow. Zach Mercer crossed on 33 minutes following fine approach work from Jamie Roberts. Burns converted and kicked a fourth penalty
Bath threw away their lead in the second half as they failed to score another point, yet the Warriors were a different beast and Weir kicked a goal after Francois Louw tackled Heem high. Solomons’ men soon got further reward. Francois Venter and Chris Pennell combined to send Heem over, but Weir could not convert. The game then flipped in the 64th minute when replacement Bath hooker Batty was sent off for a neck roll on Sam Lewis, who landed on his head.
Weir added a penalty minutes later to put the hosts within a converted score of finding an unlikely win. It was one they eventually managed in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Worcester had scrum after scrum on the Bath line and Tempest yellowcarded props Lahiff and Noguera for set-piece infringements. Brew then followed them after committing a desperate offside tackle. It gave Worcester enough space to go wide from another scrum and Heem finished coolly. Weir’s conversion secured Worcester’s first Premiership win in four matches and took them four points clear of Newcastle at the foot of the table.
Solomons, who has faced criticism for resting Ben Te’o, added praise for the England centre as he continues to build up to match fitness with the Six Nations around the corner. “Ben is a good lad,” said Solomons. “We had to do the right thing for him. He came off the back of three heavy Test matches and he had to have a break. He did really well versus Saracens last weekend and well again this week. He’s putting it in for the team and he’s a fine player.”
What a feeling: Duncan Weir celebrates landing the winning conversion