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Windo try snatches late win for the Warriors Windo try snatches late win for the Warriors

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Windo try snatches late win for the Warriors

Veteran prop Tony Windo, who will be 37 later this term, scored a try two minutes into injury time after Worcester captain Pat Sanderson had been denied a score from similar two-metre range.

Fly-half Shane Drahm’s conversion gave Worcester victory, ensuring a rip-roaring finale to a pulsating, if ill-tempered, contest. In only their second Premiership season Worcester are mixing it impressively with English rugby’s big guns. The latest win came just six days after they toppled London Irish away from home.

Saracens outscored their hosts 4-3 on tries, clinching two bonus points, as full-back Dan Scarbrough (two), wing Richard Haughton and centre Thomas Castaignede touched down.

But Worcester, who claimed a penalty try and touchdowns from Windo and Drew Hickey, kept their nerve when it really mattered.

The game threatened to be remembered most for a triple sin-binning on 23 minutes after Saracens lock Kris Chesney sparked a mass brawl. Chesney’s dangerous lunge on Nicolas Le Roux could have left the Frenchman badly injured, yet Chesney incredibly escaped with only a yellow card, the same punishment referee Dave Pearson handed out to Saracens scrum-half Alan Dickens and Worcester hooker Andre Van Niekerk for their part in an ensuing scrap.

But Worcester ultimately ensured that rugby would be the winner, and a
9,000-plus Sixways crowd roared its approval.

Drahm replaced knee injury victim James Brown in the Warriors’ starting XV, and there was also a home debut for Le Roux, while Worcester captain Sanderson lined up opposite his brother and Saracens flanker Alex.

Saracens gave Lions hooker Shane Byrne a first league start, with Paul Bailey replacing injured wing Tevita Vaikona and prop Ben Broster taking over from Cobus Visagie in the front row.

Worcester’s early territorial dominance should have been rewarded on the scoreboard, but Drahm drifted two 25-metre penalty shots wide, and Saracens punished them through a 17th-minute try against the run of play.  Warriors scrum-half Andy Gomarsall fumbled possession at the back of a ruck, and Saracens wing Richard Haughton pounced, setting off on a weaving run.

With Worcester’s defence at sixes and sevens, fly-half Glen Jackson capitalised on the mayhem and launched an inch perfect cross-kick which Scarbrough pouched.

Saracens though, were fortunate to be ahead, and minutes later, they could only count their blessings that Chesney was not sent off. Chesney tried to smash Le Roux head-first into perimeter fencing after the Warriors full-back had been bundled out of play, and it caused a fight involving several players from both sides.

Pearson took the yellow card option though, choosing to sin-bin Chesney, Dickens and Van Niekerk.
Temporarily reduced to 13 men, Saracens found themselves under siege up-front, and Pearson punished the visitors by awarding Worcester a penalty try after Byrne stood up in the middle of a five-metre scrum.

Drahm slotted the conversion, yet Saracens fancied their chances out wide, and  Haughton scampered over for a try 10 minutes before the break that Jackson improved.

There was a simmering under-current caused by the Chesney incident though, with Worcester clearly aggrieved he had escaped dismissal, and a Drahm penalty set up an intriguing second period, with Saracens 12-10 ahead.

It took Saracens just four minutes to post another well-worked try, prising open the Worcester defence when Jackson’s perfectly timed pass put Castaignede through.

Worcester had to rediscover their early cohesion and snap, but Saracens knew they could prosper through pace and width, given the attacking threat offered by players like Haughton and Scarbrough.  Warriors had to keep the dangermen quiet, and they hauled themselves back into contention when Hickey galloped over on a 15-metre dash to the corner, but Drahm missed another kick, landing his conversion attempt well short.

Pearson ruled uncontested scrums for the closing quarter after Saracens lost props Broster and Kevin Yates through injuries. It was an unavoidable decision, albeit one that stalled Worcester’s scrummaging power.

Drahm edged Worcester ahead with 13 minutes left, but Scarbrough then struck for the second time, hoisting Saracens ahead before Windo’s glorious late show produced a memorable finale.

 

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