Leicester were indebted to a try from England flanker Lewis Moody and 14 points from the boot of Jeremy Staunton for preserving their year-long unbeaten home record.
But they were made to scrap for victory by a gutsy Worcester, who have failed to win at Welford Road in nine visits since 1895, and twice had to come from behind to clinch their third Guinness Premiership win of the season. Moody crossed from a first half line-out but it was left to Staunton to kick Leicester victory with a drop goal then a penalty after flanker Tom Wood crossed for Worcester’s try midway through the second half.
Once again Leicester, missing 10 players through injury, lacked cohesion and the game was ruined as a spectacle by a strong wind which caused problems for the kickers. Worcester worked tirelessly in defence to frustrate Leicester but lacked the finishing power to cause an upset, although they did take the lead with barely a minute on the clock.
Leicester were penalised for killing the ball in a ruck after just 23 seconds and Willie Walker banged over the first of his three first half penalties.
Staunton’s tactical kicking and some penetrative running from England centre Dan Hipkiss gave Worcester few opportunities to relieve the pressure but Staunton was off target with an 11th-minute penalty attempt that caught the stiff downfield breeze and drifted wide.
Staunton was also wide of the target with a drop goal effort four minutes later but Worcester had already been penalised at the breakdown and the former Ireland fly-half was able to land the penalty. A second penalty from Staunton after Worcester infringed under mounting pressure put Leicester ahead but Walker levelled with a well-struck penalty when winger Miles Benjamin managed to break into Tigers’ territory.
It proved a brief respite for Worcester as Ryan Powell was forced to nudge the ball into touch close to his own line. Leicester won the resulting line-out and Moody emerged from a pile of bodies to claim the try. Staunton expertly added a difficult conversion from the right-hand touchline.
Staunton’s conversion was eclipsed by a more spectacular effort from Walker who closed the half with a wind-assisted penalty from five metres inside his own half that bounced over off the crossbar. Staunton struck the left post with a firmly-struck penalty when Worcester went off-side five minutes into the second half but this time the kick bounced back into play.
Worcester brought on prop Matt Mullan, hooker Aleki Lutui and lock Graham Kitchener which appeared to give their pack drive and direction and they stunned the home crowd when a sustained attack created the overlap for Wood to gallop over. The try reclaimed the lead but Walker was unable to add a difficult conversion into the wind.
Leicester were back in front within three minutes when Staunton slotted a drop goal but he hooked a penalty chance a minute later when Netani Talei was penalised for holding on in a ruck. But Staunton made no mistake when Worcester took down a scrum, his third penalty proving the final score of a disappointing contest.