EDF ENERGY CUP Worcester 23 Newport/Gwent Dragons 10
John Brain’s Worcester Warriors made the most of difficult conditions to gain only their second home victory of the season.
With Leicester Tigers already confirmed as group winners, neither side could progress to the semi-finals and the match could easily have descended into a training exercise but both teams made an effort and, at times, produced some entertaining rugby.
The first half was a stop-start affair as injuries prevented the Warriors from putting together any meaningful sequences.
No 8 Drew Hickey left the pitch on 20 minutes suffering from a rib injury and, only seconds after coming on, his replacement, Gavin Quinnell, looked odds-on to open the scoring.
The youngest member of the Welsh rugby dynasty was held up over the line but Worcester took a scrum from the resulting penalty and quick work from scrum-half Matt Powell and flanker and captain Kai Horstmann gave wing Aisea Havili an easy run-in.
James Brown added the conversion for a 7-0 lead but, only six minutes after arriving on the pitch, Quinnell was stretchered off after twisting his left knee.
The Sixways backroom staff suspect medial ligament damage which, if confirmed by a scan this week, will put the promising youngster out of action for some time.
The scoreline remained unchanged until half-time despite the experienced Dragons’ captain, Walsall-born Colin Charvis, igniting a number of serious attempts to cross the Worcester line.
The visitors spent five minutes camped in the Worcester 22, but a combination of defensive pressure and poor handling by the Welsh side saw them leave without a point.
It was no surprise, then, that the international half-back pairing of Ceri Sweeney and Gareth Cooper were brought on ten minutes into the second half to revive the Dragons.
Worcester had the next word, though, slotting through a penalty from Brown to stretch the lead before Sweeney replied to open the scoring for the visitors on 55 minutes.
Brown added a second penalty on 58 minutes before Havili scored his second try on 62 minutes following a solo run and grubber kick by Brown.
The fly-half missed the conversion but, together with scrum-half Matt Powell who had a decent match and got the better of the Dragons on numerous occasions thanks to intelligent kicking, will have given director of rugby John Brain some selection headaches this week.
Replacement flanker Nic Fitisemanu brought the Dragons back into the match with a try five minutes from time following an example of sublime running rugby and linking play from the visitors which lit up the game.
Sweeney converted but a handling error just after the re-start gave Brown the opportunity to dive on the ball for Worcester’s third try which put the game beyond the visitors' reach.
Brain said the victory had been vital as they look to add to last weekend’s first Premiership win of the season over Saracens. "Today was very important," he said. "If we hadn’t won, we’d have lost all that we achieved last weekend. The work that defence coach Phil Larder has done in two sessions has improved us massively and we now need to work hard to put a decent run of wins together."
WORCESTER: Best (Drahm, 56); Havili (Grove, 68), Avramovich, Lombard, Tucker; Brown, M Powell (R Powell, 70); Morris, Fortey (Gotting, 56), Taumoepeau (Black, 70); Gilles, Collier; Horstmann (capt), Harding, Hickey (Quinnell, 20, Bowley, 26).
NEWPORT/GWENT: Wyatt; Fussell, N Brew, Williams (Maule, 69), A Brew; Hercus (Sweeney, 50), Walker (Cooper, 50); Black, Daly (Harrison, 47), Corsi (Crawford, 47); Hall, Charteris; Evans (Fitisemanu, 57), Ringer, Charvis (capt) (Griffiths, 69), Gareth Maule.
Referee: T Beddows (RFU) .