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Worcester claim first Guinness Premiership win of the season

26 Nov 2006
Worcester claim first Guinness Premiership win of the season

Worcester produced a stunning second-half comeback capped by a Shane Drahm drop-goal four minutes from time to claim their first GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP win of the season at in-form Saracens.

The Warriors had lost eight in a row, sacked coach Anthony Eddy in the week and made major changes to their side ahead of the trip to a rain-sodden Vicarage Road.

They looked dead and buried when they trailed 17-3 at the break after Thomas Castaignede and Glen Jackson scored early tries, with fly-half Jackson adding a penalty and two conversions.

But the treacherous conditions suited Worcester’s forward power game and Sarries were unable to handle a succession of driving runners with Chris Fortey and Gavin Quinnell blasting their way over for tries.

James Brown kicked an early penalty and his replacement Drahm added two conversions before dropping deep to drill over the decisive drop-goal from 35 metres.

Alan Gaffney named an unchanged side with former Great Britain rugby league skipper Andy Farrell making his third successive start at inside centre.

The visitors made a host of changes, including a new half-back pairing in Matt Powell and Brown while Chris Horsman and Fortey were restored to the front row.

The conditions, though, were in their favour on a heavy pitch as they pursued their familiar no-frills, forward-dominated approach.

They hustled Saracens into early errors so that Brown gave them a third-minute lead when he drilled over a 30-metre penalty.

The treacherous surface, though, worked for Saracens when Castaignede grabbed their first try, taking Farrell’s superb pass, accelerating past the cover and then shrugging off a tackle before sliding across the turf to score on the right.

Jackson converted and added a 14th-minute penalty, while Farrell showcased his skills with neat distribution and one superb raking kick that pinned Worcester back.

A series of handling errors prevented either side taking control after that, until Saracens poached the ball at a Worcester lineout three minutes before the interval.

Lock Tom Ryder made the initial break and after flanker Hugh Vyvyan drove for the line the ball was dug out for Jackson to force his way over in the left-hand corner before adding a superb conversion from the touchline.

Worcester made one change at the interval with veteran prop Tony Windo making his first appearance of the season after recovering from back surgery and they threatened immediately when lock Craig Gillies drove close to the Saracens line.

They were repelled at one five-metre scrum but mounted a long spell of pressure that hauled them back into the game when hooker Fortey was driven over from a close-range lineout and Drahm converted.

Suddenly Saracens were struggling as replacement flanker Quinnell blasted his way over from close range 13 minutes from time with Drahm’s conversion levelling the scores.

With the aid of their excellent lineout work they patiently forced their way back downfield before Drahm dropped back behind a ruck to fire over the drop-goal to ease some of the considerable relegation pressure at Sixways.

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