Match Reaction: Worcester Warriors 18 Exeter Chiefs 24
It was a case of déjà vu for Worcester Warriors head coach Richard Hill as he watched his side once again fall to a narrow defeat at home to Exeter Chiefs.
No team in the Aviva Premiership have more losing bonus points than Worcester’s eight this season and against the Chiefs it was Dean Mumm who became the latest to break Warriors’ hearts.
The Australian international barged over with three minutes remaining to seal a 24-18 win in a back-and-forth encounter at Sixways.
First-half tries from Luke Arscott and Gareth Steenson had put the Chiefs on course for their first back-to-back away victories in the Aviva Premiership since last April.
But the hosts came roaring back and scores from Matt Kvesic and Josh Drauniniu, against his old club, turned the game in Worcester’s favour at 18-17.
However with Josh Matavesi sent to the sin bin it was Mumm who finally broke Worcester’s resistance, condemning them to their seventh defeat in their last eight Aviva Premiership games.
“Exeter are a very good team, but I think our players could see a victory in sight towards the end,” said Hill.
“However, the sin-binning of Josh Matavesi obviously caused a problem as we went down to 14 men for the last ten minutes, which didn’t help. It has been the story of our season so far, just missing out on a win in the last five minutes.
“It is hard enough to defend against Exeter with 15 men as they are a good side and keep coming at you, but going down to 14 left us a bit too stretched.
“I couldn’t see a knock-on in David Lemi’s disallowed try, but the touch-judge called it and it looked a very harsh one to me. I don’t think anyone in the stadium would have complained if the try had been given.”
Meanwhile Exeter head coach Rob Baxter, fresh from the announcement this week that he will tour to Argentina with England this summer, admitted he had feared his side had thrown it away after letting a 17-6 lead slip in the second half.
“I’d have been a little bit disappointed if we’d not won but, at the same time, any coach in the Premiership would tell you that any away win is a big win,” said Baxter, whose side's hopes of a Heineken Cup spot for next season were kept alive with this result.
"If you look at Worcester’s record here, I think they’ve only lost three games and they’ve been close matches too, so this is a tough place to come and win.
“We’re delighted with the end result, but a little bit disappointed with the 20 minutes after half-time because that should have been the making or breaking of the game for us.
“We got a bit edgy and nervy and looked like a team that was trying to eke out a win rather than driving forward and that gave Worcester the opportunity to get some territory.”
Worcester Warriors: Pennell; Drauniniu, Grove, Matavesi, Lemi; Goode, Arr; Mullan (Lutui, 73), Shervington (CR Jones, 73), Murray (Andress, 63), Percival, C Jones (Schofield, 64), Best, Kvesic, Taulava (Betty, 69)
Replacements not used: Perry, Gray, Clarke
Exeter Chiefs: Arscott; Nowell, Dollman, Shoemark (Naqelevuki, 75), Jess; Steenson, Thomas (Chudley, 72); Rimmer (Sturgess, 60), Yeandle (Whitehead, 60), Tui (Mitchell, 77), Mumm, Welch (Hanks, 62), Ewers (White, 61), Scaysbrook, Baxter
Replacements not used: Slade
Tries: Kvesic, Drauniniu
Penalties: Goode 2
Tries: Arscott, Steenson, Mumm
Conversions: Steenson 3
Referee: David Rose