Two second-half tries helped Northampton Saints get back to winning ways in the Aviva Premiership after an error-strewn first period at Sixways.
Both sides struggled to gain any momentum before the break as fly-halves Andy Goode and Stephen Myler went toe-to-toe, trading penalties on a busy afternoon for referee Greg Garner.
But the game took a decisive turn late on when Saints lock Samu Manoa squeezed over the line, and a penalty try gave the visitors some breathing space as the Warriors were condemned to a fourth straight league defeat.
Worcester had the best of the early exchanges, Josh Drauniniu breaking for the corner after collecting a loose ball in midfield only to be held up five metres short of the line.
Saints cleared their lines but coughed up a penalty at the resulting lineout, and Warriors fly-half Goode made short work of the chance, knocking it home to make it 3-0.
Worcester’s record points-scorer then increased his personal tally with a monster effort from inside his own half to extend the home side’s lead to six points.
After a slow start Northampton worked their way back into the game and twice Goode had to resort to the boot to ease the pressure on the Worcester defence.
But then Drauniniu was pinged for picking up the ball in an offside position and Stephen Myler converted the penalty to reduce the deficit.
The Warriors were then penalised for going offside in the middle of the park and Myler made no mistake with the penalty to level the scores.
The sides continued to trade three-pointers, ex-Saints man Neil Best winning a penalty from Lee Dickson for failing to release the ball after Goode had charged down the scrum-half’s clearance.
Goode – back in the side after illness – made it 9-6 only for Worcester to infringe at the re-start and allow Myler the chance to pull Saints back level from in front of the posts.
The first real attack of any note arrived when Jon Clarke collected the ball and fed Matt Kvesic, and with Worcester driving forward the Saints went offside and Goode made it four penalties from four.
The Warriors kept up the pressure and from a lineout the ball went wide to Drauniniu via David Lemi only for Dylan Hartley to infringe at the breakdown.
It was one penalty too far for referee Greg Garner, who sent the Saints skipper to cool his heels in the sin bin. Goode couldn’t extend his sequence of successful kicks, however, missing with the subsequent penalty.
With Hartley off the field Phil Dowson took over at the lineout, only for his first call to be called not straight.
But Warriors were penalised for pulling down the set-piece giving Myler a shot at goal, only for the rugby league convert to push a simple chance wide of the posts.
With the clock running down to half-time, Warriors won a penalty but saw it reversed for a stamp by scrum-half Jonny Arr on Saints lock Mark Sorensen. Myler lined up the penalty but failed from distance to send Warriors in 12-9 ahead.
After the interval Myler had the chance to make amends when Euan Murray was penalised at scrum on Warriors’ own put-in and the former St Helens man made short work of the penalty to peg the home side back once more.
And Northampton took the lead for the first time when Worcester were pinged for not rolling away from a driven maul and Myler knocked over his fifth penalty of the day.
But the visitors seemed determined to shoot themselves in the foot and Courtney Lawes picked up their second yellow card of the afternoon for a late tackle on Goode as he chipped the ball behind the defence. That gave Goode a close-range shot at goal, and he dispatched it to bring Warriors level once more.
With neither side seeming able to pull away, Murray was penalised again at the scrum only for Myler to strike the post with his penalty effort with Goode scrambling the ball away.
But the game took a decisive turn when Northampton drove towards the Worcester line and Best saw yellow for infringing at the lineout. Myler kicked the penalty to the corner and from the lineout, Samu Manoa managed to squeeze over the line out wide.
The Northampton fly-half sliced his penalty wide of the target giving Warriors hope, and a sixth Goode penalty from around 45 metres made it a two-point game going into the last quarter. But Northampton pushed the hosts back deep into their own half and from an attacking lineout earned another penalty.
Going to the set piece again, Warriors were pushed back towards their posts before collapsing the drive, only for referee Garner to award a penalty try that Myler converted with ease.
Trailing 27-18, Warriors tried to force their way back into the game late on but despite the reappearance of Best from the sin bin they couldn’t find a way past the Saints defence as they succumbed to defeat.