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Match Report: Worcester Warriors 23 Leicester Tigers 28

06 May 2017
Match Report: Worcester Warriors 23 Leicester Tigers 28

The immaculate kicking of Freddie Burns booked Leicester Tigers a spot in the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals for the 13th consecutive season as they edged an end-of-season thriller against Worcester Warriors at Sixways.

Burns booted 20 points from the tee and added a drop-goal for good measure to secure a 15th straight win for Tigers over Worcester.

The Warriors had won three of their last four home games since Gary Gold took over as head coach but with two points needed to guarantee Leicester a place in the top-four, Burns kept the scoreboard ticking over to finish the job in style and set up a semi-final trip to Wasps in a fortnight’s time.

Worcester – who finish 11th in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table – crossed the whitewash three times to Leicester’s one, as Chris Pennell, Bryce Heem and Wynand Olivier all dotted down.

Tom Youngs’ push-over try was Tigers’ only five-pointer but with Bath-bound Burns’ impeccable work from the tee, they accrued enough points to come out on top.

Leicester may have been looking to guarantee a top-four spot but it was Worcester who started the stronger at Sixways – setting up camp in the visiting 22.

Heem, Olivier and ex-Tiger Perry Humphreys all came agonisingly close to getting over but Leicester’s last-ditch defence held firm.

Having withstood the early pressure, the semi-final chasers were awarded a 12th-minute penalty, which the in-form Burns duly converted, although Warriors fly-half Ryan Mills responded in kind shortly after.

A second Burns penalty took his streak to ten consecutive successful Aviva Premiership Rugby kicks before Tigers landed a crucial blow midway through the half.

A lineout drive on the right-hand side was marshalled by skipper Youngs and he dotted down once the pack mauled their way over the Worcester line, before Burns stayed perfect with the subsequent conversion.

But with Ben Te’o powerfully making yards, Worcester got back into the game just after the half-hour mark as a flowing move saw Heem feed a charging Pennell and the full-back cut inside before burrowing over – Mills’ conversion making it 13-10.

The fly-halves traded penalties to bring a breathless first half to a close but Leicester’s three-point advantage turned into a two-point deficit shortly after the break when Heem picked up a loose ball and blazed his way to the line.

Mills couldn’t add the conversion, but his opposite number was having no such trouble as Burns nailed a 49th-minute drop goal, and two further penalties – the latter for offside – to put the visitors back in control at 25-18 ahead.

But Worcester have refused to lie down at any point in this Aviva Premiership Rugby season and demonstrated that resilience once again with 15 minutes left as Ryan Lamb fed Olivier, who handed off a defender and powered in from the 22 to close the gap once again.

But as Lamb’s conversion attempt went across the face of the posts, Burns proved the importance of a reliable boot as he landed another penalty – his seventh successful kick from the tee – to seal the win and a semi-final spot in the process.

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