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Match Report: Worcester Warriors 31 Bristol Rugby 25

04 Nov 2016
Match Report: Worcester Warriors 31 Bristol Rugby 25

Josh Adams and Max Stelling both scored try doubles as Worcester Warriors survived a late Bristol Rugby fightback to kickstart their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign with a victory at Sixways.

Worcester got off to the ideal start with a try after six minutes from Adams, but they found themselves trailing at 13-10 at the break as Bristol went over themselves through Giorgi Nemsadze, with Billy Searle showing dead-eye accuracy from the tee.

Stelling had gone over on the stroke of half-time for the hosts and Worcester came flying out of the traps following the restart.

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With Rob Hawkins and Jack Wallace in the bin Adams went over for his second try before Michael Dowsett marked his Warriors debut with a score, before Stelling crossed again for a 31-13 lead.

But Bristol refused to lie down and tries from Wallace and winger Tom Varndell brought them to within a converted try of victory, but they couldn’t find the final breakthrough.

Both sides looked eager to get on the scoreboard early but the honour went to Worcester Warriors when on six minutes Adams capitalised on some Bristol confusion to race away for the game’s opening score.

Jamie Shillcock saw his conversion hit the post but he made up for it moments later as Varndell caught the high ball and looked to score a superb solo try, only for the Worcester fly-half to bring the winger down.

But Bristol had their tails up and thought they had dotted down after eight minutes through Nemsadze at a line out, but a Warriors hand just got there first.

However, they and the Georgian didn’t have to wait long and after Hawkins was held up over the line Nemsadze showed some neat footwork to dot down under the posts on 15 minutes, Searle nudging the Warriors in front with the easy conversion.

Bristol enjoyed possession after going in front and Soane Tonga’uiha earned his side a penalty at a scrum on 26 minutes which Searle knocked over from 35m to extend their lead.

And the fly-half certainly had his kicking boots on at Sixways as he made it three kicks from as many attempts on 32 minutes to push Worcester out to a 13-5 lead.

Worcester were still pushing for a second try, but some strong Bristol defending kept them at bay around the half hour.

However, with half-time approaching a flowing counter-attack saw Adams send Stelling over, although Shillcock’s missed conversion meant the home side trailed 13-10 at the break.

Bristol were reduced to 14 men shortly after the restart as Hawkins was shown a yellow card, and Worcester wasting no time in making their numerical advantage count as great play from Jackson Willison led to Chris Pennell sending Adams racing away into the corner for his second try of the game, with Shillcock adding the extras.

Things went from bad to worse for Bristol as Wallace joined Hawkins in the bin for a tip tackle, and Worcester thought they had another try as Stelling looked to be through, but the 13 men were relieved to see there was a forward pass in the build up.

But the home side didn’t have to wait long for that fourth bonus-point try as Michael Dowsett peeled off the back of the breakdown to go over from close-range for a debut score, Shillcock’s conversion putting Worcester 24-13 ahead.

Bristol refused to lie down and Gareth Maule looked to get his side back into the contest as he pounced on a loose ball, but the centre was halted just 5m out from the Warriors’ tryline.

However, just after the hour mark a superb break from Pennell was matched by Stelling, who raced onto his own kick down the left flank to cross for his second of the evening, Shillcock adding the extras.

This should have knocked the wind out of Bristol’s sails, but far from it as minutes later Luke Arscott broke and Wallace went over, with Searle adding the conversion.

And the visitors trailed by just six points with four minutes remaining as Varndell accelerated clear to touch down, although Searle was wide with his kick.

The Bristol winger was showing no signs of slowing down and moments later broke again, with Matt Cox yellow carded in trying to stem the flow.


But as Bristol sniped around the fringes and prodded away for that final converted try, the Warriors defended stoutly at a lineout to confirm the victory.

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