Worcester 16-25 London Irish, Aviva Premiership
Exiles return to winning ways
April 21, 2012
London Irish return to winning ways
London Irish snapped a seven-game losing streak in this season's Aviva Premiership with a 25-16 victory over an out-of-sorts Worcester Warriors at Sixways.
London Irish fullback Tom Homer was the hero with 15 points and he helped ensure that there was no fairytale Sixways farewell for departing favourites Marcel Garvey, Miles Benjamin, Kai Horstmann and Dale Rasmussen as Worcester produced one of their worst performances of the season, as if they were already content with having secured their Premiership status for next season.
It was not until the final quarter that they showed any real fight, with late tries from Garvey and Benjamin giving some solace to their supporters. For most of the match Irish were comfortably the better, with impressive performances from Bryn Evans and Ofisa Treviranus.
Irish started strongly and took a fourth-minute lead when Homer kicked a 30-metre penalty after Worcester were offside in midfield. The fullback added another, this time from 40m, but Andy Goode responded with a simple penalty for the Warriors. Irish continued to have much the better of the opening quarter and when Goode carelessly knocked on an up-and-under from Delon Armitage, it gave the visitors the platform from which they scored their first try. The visitors battered the tryline and eventually a clever pass from Steve Shingler sent Joe Ansbro over for the score which Homer converted to give his side a 10-point lead.
Worcester were dealt a further blow when young flanker Jake Abbott was forced to leave the field with a leg injury, but the Warriors were boosted when Goode was successful with his second penalty. After 35 minutes Irish deservedly scored their second try, when a clever kick through from Jonathan Joseph gave Homer sufficient time to pick up and score the try. He was unable to convert it, but it still left Irish with a healthy 18-6 half-time advantage.
Worcester's performance in the first half was lethargic, prompting coach Richard Hill to make three substitutions at half-time with Goode and Jonny Arr being replaced at half-back by Danny Gray and Shaun Perry. Bruce Douglas was introduced at prop. These changes had no immediate effect as Irish continued to be the dominant side and it took an excellent cover tackle from Perry to foil Sailosi Tagicakibau as the wing raced for the corner.
Delon Armitage crosses for a try in his penultimate appearance in a London Irish shirt © Getty Images
Homer had a chance to extend the visitors' lead when a 50m penalty rebounded back off the post and with Irish remaining in charge Hill threw on three more substitutes for the final quarter. It got worse for the Warriors when Rasmussen was injured following a thunderous collision with Ansbro. The centre received oxygen before being helped from the field and with Worcester having used all their back substitutes, replacement flanker Matt Kvesic was forced to play on the wing.
Despite these misfortunes, Worcester clawed their way into the game when Benjamin forced his way over for a try but Gray failed to convert. However, that revival was short-lived as back came Irish, with Armitage receiving an inside pass and racing away to score the decisive try which Homer converted before Garvey said farewell to Sixways with a consolation score.
London Irish coach Toby Booth was a relieved man following the game and also confirmed he would still be at the club next season, said "I'm delighted for the players. The road has been too long with so many defeats. We adapted well to the conditions, we controlled the game and didn't let them get going."
"(This season) has been very frustrating, we have lost around seven games in the last five minutes. Today it was a conscious decision to pick 14 players who will be with us next season as we've got to fast track them into getting Premiership experience."
Worcester coach Richard Hill was heavily critical of his side's first-half showing. "We were dire in the first half," said Hill. "We sharpened up after the interval. Shaun Perry made a considerable difference coming on at half-time as he helped with his leadership and energy and we restored a little bit of pride in the second half."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"The fans could not be happier with the opposition and it adds an exciting element to a game that is shaping up as a thriller." Ben Kay previews the Premiership final showdown
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel