Warriors break century mark
February 20, 2011
Fly-half Joe Carlisle played his part in the Worcester Warriors' victory over the Bees on Saturday © Getty Images
Worcester Warriors put the seal on a near flawless regular season Championship campaign as they battled their way to a 27-20 victory over Birmingham & Solihull at a rain-soaked Damson Park on Saturday.
The Warriors made it 21 victories from 22 games, reaching 101 league points in the process, courtesy of tries from Matt Kvesic, Chris Pennell and Oriol Ripol, and 12 points from the boot of Joe Carlisle. However, they were made to work hard for their victory.
The visitors started brightly, with openside flanker Kvesic racing away to score after being released by fly-half Carlisle. However, Birmingham & Solihull hit back with tries from Russell Earnshaw and Rob Connolly to lead 14-10 at the interval.
Within a minute of a the restart, though, Worcester were back in front, fullback Pennell marking his return from injury with a try. Carlisle converted to put three points between the sides but the boot of Mark Woodrow twice drew the Bees level as the half wore on. However, Ripol then won it for the visitors on 71 minutes when he dotted after good work from Rob Higgitt.
Second-placed Bedford, who finished a whopping 19 points behind Worcester, were also given a surprisingly rough ride in their 27-24 victory over Plymouth Albion.
The Blues were rocked by the concession of early tries to Aaron Carpenter and Cameron Mitchell but managed to turn the game around in the closing ten minutes of the half, during which both Ollie Dodge and James Pritchard went over.
Alex Rae then touched down in the early stages of the second half to extend Bedford's lead but back came Albion, who edged two points ahead thanks to Alex Davies, who helped himself to ten quick-fire points, the fly-half scoring a try, converting it and then adding a penalty moments later. However, Bedford nicked it at the death when South African Handre Schmidt flopped over.
Meanwhile, the Cornish Pirates, who finished third, battled their way to a 16-13 victory over Doncaster at Castle Park.
Tom Luke's converted try was the difference between the two sides in a fiercely-contested opening period which featured three yellow cards, the Pirates reaching the interval 13-6 to the good. The second period proved just as competitive but although Doncaster struck late on through Ed Jackson, the Pirates held on.
London Welsh were left grateful for the fact that their place in the top four was already secure as they slumped to a 22-13 defeat at home to fifth-placed Nottingham.
James Arlidge opened the scoring for Nottingham with a penalty and although Welsh responded with a try from Lee Beach, the visitors led by a point, 8-7, at the interval courtesy of a try from fullback David Jackson. Welsh tried desperately to turn the game around in the second period but gifted their opponents two tries, Cesar Sempere touching down after intercepting a loose pass before Arlidge crashed over after a successful chargedown.
In the battle for seventh spot, Rotherham prevailed in dramatic circumstances, the Titans beating Bristol 22-21 in a thrilling encounter at Clifton Lane.
Rotherham absolutely dominated the opening 40 minutes and racked up three tries in total, through Ryan Burrows, Pete Swatkins and Jonny Hepworth. However, they failed to register a single score as Bristol came storming back. George Watkins, Jonathan Brandling-Harris and Anthony Elliott all crossed as they drew to within a point of their hosts.
Bristol then managed to work themselves into drop goal territory in the dying seconds only to knock the ball on and squander the opportunity to complete what would have been a remarkable comeback.
In the day's other game, Esher saw off Moseley 34-13 in a game between two sides who had already been consigned to the relegation play-offs.
With the regular season programme completed, the pools and fixtures for Stage 2 of this season's Championship has now been confirmed.
Pool C - Relegation play-offs
* after 6 pool matches, top 2 teams from Pools A & B progress to semi finals
* semi finals weekend of April 30
* semi final draw - 1st Pool A v 2nd Pool B & 1st Pool B v 2nd Pool A
* final May 11 & 18 - the team with the best playing record in Stage 2 will have the choice of whether to be at home for the first leg or the second leg of the Championship final
* winner of Championship final promoted to Aviva Premiership subject to fulfilling entry criteria
* 1 pool of 4 teams playing 6 matches (3 home & 3 away)
* after 6 pool matches played, lowest ranked team is relegated to National Division One (level three)
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