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Premiership

Highlights & Report | Worcester Warriors 24-16 Leicester Tigers

Great start for Worcester

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Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Warriors got their Gallagher Premiership campaign off to the best possible start with a fifth straight win over Leicester Tigers in all competitions.

First half tries from Ted Hill and Perry Humphreys and 14 points from the boot of Duncan Weir helped Warriors to complete a quickfire double over Leicester following victory in the Premiership Rugby Cup last month.

The scoreline perhaps did not reflect how Warriors dominated for long periods of the match but handling errors and a heavy penalty count at the breakdown prevented them from converting second half pressure into more points.

But Warriors again demonstrated a fierce will to win and n ability to retain their composure under pressure with Weir levering over three penalties in the final quarter to deny Leicester a bonus point.

Weir’s accuracy proved decisive as Leicester missed three penalties including two in the final quarter when the match was still in the balance.

Leicester were unrecognisable from the side Warriors trounced in the  Premiership Rugby Cup four weeks ago but it was centre Tom Hardwick, one of the few survivors from that encounter, who gave Tigers the lead with a third minute penalty.

Warriors hit back in style with a rampaging  Hill clattering down the right wing after he was set free by a lovely pass from Ryan Mills. Hill had plenty to do when he got the ball but he handed off one tackler and battered his way past full-back George Worth to touch down.

Weir’s conversion from the right hand touchline struck the left post but bounced out.

Leicester hit back with try from hooker Tom Youngs who was smuggled over from a driving maul after Hardwick kicked a penalty into the corner for the lineout.

Hardwick added the extras but Warriors looked sharp in attack and they crafted a try for Perry Humphreys that was all about support play. Melani Nanai made a half-break and slipped the ball to Chris Pennell who found Cornell du Preez in support. The number eight took the ball into contact but popped it up for the supporting Humphreys who went over for his second try of the season against Leicester.

Weir added the conversion but Warriors’ lead lasted only six minutes as Hardwick slotted a penalty after Warriors were penalised at the breakdown.

That score was cancelled out by a penalty from Weir but Warriors had to defend determinedly to hold onto their lead.

Leicester kicked two penalties to the corner and again tried to force their way over from a driving maul but Warriors stole the second lineout with the final play of the first half.

Leicester did regain the lead early in the second half when Hardwick struck a penalty but that proved to be their last success as EW Viljoen and then Hardwick both missed with penalty attempts in a costly three minutes period.

Instead Weir rewarded Warriors for a passionate display by rewarding Warriors for the tenacity and picking up the penalties when they were on offer.

His longest range effort five minutes from time gave Warriors some breathing space and his last, a minute from time, started the celebrations.

Warriors | 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard, 1 Callum Black (Waller 56), 2 Niall Annett, 3 Conor Carey (Palframan 78), 4 Anton Bresler, 5 Graham Kitchener (Fatialofa 51), 6 Ted Hill, 7 Marco Mama (C), 8 Cornell du Preez (van Velze 63).
Replacements | 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Michael Fatialofa, 20 GJ van Velze, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Francois Venter.

Match Highlights:

Timeline
3m | Hardwick pen 0-3
6m | Hill try 5-3
10m | Youngs try 5-8
11m | Hardwick con 5-10
28m | Humphreys try 10-10
29m | Weir con 12-10
35m | Hardwick pen 12-13
38m | Weir pen 15-13
48m | Hardwick pen 15-16
64m | Weir pen 18-16
75m | Weir pen 21-16
80m | Weir pen 24-16

Match Report  from Worcester Warriors

Premiership

Harlequins Secure South African Star’s Signature

Harlequins have confirmed the signing of one of the most powerful backs in Super Rugby for next season

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(Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)

Harlequins have announced the signing of South African back Andre Esterhuizen from Super Rugby outfit the Sharks.

The 25-year-old, known as ‘The Giant’ due to his size and stature, will link-up with the squad ahead of the 2020/21 season following the end of the upcoming Super Rugby campaign with the South African-based franchise. 

The eight-time capped Springbok is delighted to be joining the Premiership side and admitted the opportunity was too good to turn down.

“When the opportunity to play for Harlequins came up, I knew it was the right move for me to develop my career and get the chance to play in the Premiership, as well as experience the European competition, which have always been dreams of mine. Paul Gustard and his team are building something special there and to have the chance to work with a young and dynamic coaching group such as Nick Evans and Sean Long is really exciting. I can’t wait to run out at The Stoop and show them what I can bring to the team,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Gustard believes that Esterhuizen’s sheer power will be a massive boost to the club and is excited to have him on board. 

“Andre is an incredible signing for Harlequins. He is a current Springbok who has the ability to change any game through his raw power and strength in the contact areas. His physical abilities are impressive enough, but we were further attracted by his capacity to be a second playmaker, distributing before and through the line. He is a fantastic talent and his addition to our squad is very exciting. Besides his ability on the field, which is without debate, he is a tremendous human being. He has the character that we want and at 25 is entering his prime as a player. He will join a backline that we feel can grow together and develop into an elite unit, developing a deep understanding of each other and building strong friendships,” he said. 

Esterhuizen will be a huge addition to the Quins back-line with his ability to play centre and full-back, as well as having 72 Super Rugby appearances to his name ahead of the new season and will be hoping to hit the ground running when he heads to England.

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Premiership

Rugby Australia Confirm Skelton Stance

With the Saracens team set to be torn apart, Rugby Australia have announced their intentions regarding one of the side’s key men

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(Photo credit GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia have confirmed they will be trying to sign up Saracens star Will Skelton following the club’s salary cap scandal.

Skelton has been away from Australia since 2016 following a stint with the Waratahs, where he won the Super Rugby title in 2014. However, in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup last year approaches were made for the massive lock in a bid for him to be eligible for the tournament. 

Those moves came to no avail, but now Rugby Australia’s director of rugby Scott Johnson told The Australian that they will go all out to tempt Skelton back to his homeland. 

“I can’t see them keeping anywhere near that team together and because he [Skelton] is not ­English, he will be one of the first under the spotlight. We have spoken to his agent, and we are going to go heavy this week. We are in a realistic chance at some stage to bring him back, if he wants to come back. He’s going to make a decision on what he is doing this for. Is it money, or is it career? So he has to make that clear to us. For us, we won’t compete for the money. We’ll make a good offer. But I only want guys in the country who want to make a difference. He has apparently been saying the right things but, to be fair, he was always just trying to honour his contract,” he said. 

If he returns to Australia it is believed he could go back to the Waratahs, but there is also rumours that the Rebels or the Brumbies could try and get him onto their books. 

Meanwhile, with a big salary and being unable to play for England, it seems a logical move for Saracens to try and offload the 27-year-old. 

Already they have lost Liam Williams to the Scarlets and it is believed that George Kruis will depart for Japan come the end of the current campaign. While question marks remain over a host of star names including Owen Farrell, Billy Vunipola and Maro Itoje

However, while those players more than likely would seek a move to a club in England, Skelton will have his options and a move back to Australia would be a huge boost for the national side as they head into a new era under Dave Rennie.

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International

Borthwick Confirms New Job Already

Steve Borthwick confirmed his departure from the England set-up yesterday and less than 24 hours his new role has been announced

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Leicester Tigers have confirmed that England assistant coach Steve Borthwick will take over as head coach once his current commitments to the national side conclude.

It is a move that has been rumoured for some time and with Borthwick announcing his departure from the England set-up yesterday after over four years with them, many expected that he would be heading in the Tigers direction. 

However, the speed at which the confirmation has come about is the only surprise, but the former England international is delighted to be given the chance to manage the Tigers after learning so much from working with Eddie Jones since 2012. 

“The last four-and-a-half years working with the England team has been an incredible journey. I have worked with some brilliant players and staff. In particular, I would like to thank Eddie Jones. To have worked with one of the greatest head coaches in the world for so long has been an unbelievable experience. I’m delighted to be joining Leicester Tigers as head coach. The Tigers have such a long and successful history and are one of the greatest rugby clubs in the game. Welford Road, with the special atmosphere created by the club’s incredible supporters roaring their team forward, is a very special place to be. We must now work to build upon that great history and create our future to get this club to the top of European rugby. It is a brilliant challenge and I am excited to start working with the players and everybody associated with the team. Geordan provides a link with the club’s greatest teams and we will be working together to ensure that there are many successful days ahead for this club, and for our supporters to enjoy,” he said. 

He will be welcomed into the club with open arms after being part of the Japanese national set-up that stunned the world at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, before switching to England where he has won two Six Nations titles and reached a World Cup final. 

His arrival sees current head coach Geordan Murphy changes his role at the club, taking up the position of director of rugby and club chairman Peter Tom believes that the two former stars can build back a Tigers team that has struggled lately. 

“The appointment of Steve Borthwick as head coach and Geordan Murphy in the role of director of rugby provides an exciting combination of leadership, expertise and experience to drive the club forward in its desire to challenge for major honours again. The club has enjoyed many of its greatest successes with a blend of the Tigers DNA alongside fresh, innovative ideas from outside, both among the players and the coaching staff, and we look forward to Geordan and Steve leading that in their respective new roles,” he said. 

Both Borthwick and Murphy will be hoping to bring the Premiership side back to the top level of the game come next season, but before then they have their separate tasks, with Borthwick guiding England through the upcoming Six Nations, while Murphy attempts to take the Tigers further up the Premiership table.

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