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.
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
Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby
London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.
The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.
O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011.
He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017.
O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation.
On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.
“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions.
“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years.
“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy.
“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.
“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland.
“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.
“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old.
“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport.
“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.
“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them.
“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.
“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us.
“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.
“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career.
“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey.
“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family.
“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years.
“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.
“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then.
“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.
“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be.
“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”
Club statement | Gloucester match cancelled
Warriors regret that tonight’s Gallagher Premiership match against Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm has been cancelled.
COVID-19 cases, illness and injuries mean that, despite every attempt to fulfil the fixture, we are unable to name a team with sufficient front row forwards to comply with the competition regulations.
We currently have 36 players unavailable due to injury, illness or COVID-19, leaving us with only 18 fully fit players, of whom just three are prop forwards.
When the side to face Gloucester was announced on Thursday we named the only four fit props in the club at that stage. The availability of Murray McCallum, who was named as replacement tighthead, was subject to him passing a fitness test on Friday morning. Unfortunately, Murray failed that fitness test.
Gloucester and Premiership Rugby have now been notified that we no longer have sufficient fit and available front row forwards to allow tonight’s match to proceed safely.
We apologise to Gloucester, supporters of both clubs and BT Sport for the inconvenience this will inevitably cause but exceptional circumstances have conspired against us.
An independent Panel will now be convened to decide the points allocation and that decision will be communicated in due course but Premiership Rugby can confirm the match will not be replayed.
• The playing regulations for Gallagher Premiership matches state that:
In the interests of safety each team playing in the Premiership must have at least six fit and able players in the squad who can play at hooker, tighthead prop and loosehead prop who are suitably trained and experienced to ensure that on the first occasion that a replacement in any front row position is required (whether due to injury or consequent to a player(s) being temporarily suspended or ordered off) the team can continue to play safely with contested scrums.
In the event that a club is unable to field those six players, the match shall be cancelled.
Images & Content from Worcester Warriors
Scotland international heading to Bristol
Bristol Bears have agreed terms to bring Scottish international Magnus Bradbury to Ashton Gate Stadium.
The 26-year-old back rower joins Ellis Genge and AJ MacGinty as the Bears’ third international signing ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
With seventeen caps to his name, Bradbury has made over 100 appearances for Edinburgh Rugby since graduating through the club’s Academy.
“Magnus is a physical, athletic back rower with outstanding work rate and all the attributes to thrive in our system,” said Director of Rugby Pat Lam.
“To be a centurion at Edinburgh at such a young age shows his consistency and attitude and we’ve seen from his performances on the international stage that he can compete at the very highest level.
“Magnus brings further quality and physicality to our back row as we continue our recruitment for the 2022/23 campaign.”
Bradbury made his full Scotland debut in the 2016 November Test victory over Argentina at BT Murrayfield and has featured in all three of Scotland’s Six Nations fixtures in 2022.
He added: “It’s an exciting opportunity to come to Bristol and play in the Gallagher Premiership. This is a massive club with great ambitions and a world class coaching team – I’m looking forward to the challenge that awaits.
“I’d like to pay tribute to Edinburgh Rugby and my teammates, the fans and staff at the club. It’s been an incredible journey and I am grateful for the support I have received over many years.”