RFU Championship: Rotherham 3 Worcester 32
Three quicksilver finishes from Marcel Garvey and Miles Benjamin saw Worcester conclusively end Rotherham’s unbeaten home record, and maintain their lead at the top of the Championship with a bonus point win.
The England Saxons pair both struck after the break, to add to Benjamin’s first half effort, and one from man of the match Pat Sanderson.
Andy Goode added 12 points courtesy of three conversions and two penalties, against a solitary penalty from the Titans’ Argentinian fly half Juan Socino.
Although their wingers grabbed the headlines, it was the visitors’ superior forward power that proved the decisive factor. Strong displays from the front five starved the home side of possession, and determined defence conclusively shut them out of the match.
Satisfied Worcester head coach Richard Hill said that a midweek meeting had cleared the air, and the team now recognised the intensity required to win Championship games.
He said: “For the first time this season we looked like a Premiership team over the whole 80 minutes.
“It has been driving us mad that we have not been putting in a sustained performance, so to come here and score four tries, and not concede, makes a real statement.
“The boys have worked really hard this week, and you could sense coming here on the bus that they were in the mood. We outplayed them all over the field.”
Goode missed an opportunity to kick Worcester ahead in the opening seconds, after Rotherham were offside from the kick off. However, he hooked his 45 metre attempt.
Home centre Socino also failed to get the scoreboard moving, when he missed with from half way, after Alex Crockett was penalised for a late tackle.
A superb break from Crockett and scrum half Andy Williams pressured the line, and when no. 8 Adam Kettle infringed on the ground, Goode opened the scoring with a simple penalty.
The former Leicester fly half extended the Warriors’ advantage three minutes later, after referee Sean Davey penalised home loose head Colin Quigley at a defensive scrum.
Warriors flanker Sanderson wasted a golden opportunity for the first try, when he failed to link with his support in the shadow of the posts, at the end of a sweeping 50 metre move.
However, the Warriors continued to press, and full back Willie Walker soon put Benjamin in the corner for his eighth try of the season. A second Worcester score should have followed almost immediately, but after good continuity took them to the home line, Craig Gillies failed to hold a loose Williams pass.
The Titans’ best spell of the half saw Socino kick a straightforward penalty on the half hour mark, after scrum half Joe Bedford’s tap-and-go caught the Warriors offside on their own 22.
However, the Titans’ inability to secure their own line-out ball meant respite was only temporary. After Worcester kicked another penalty to the corner, Sanderson was driven over to give them a comfortable 18-3 interval advantage.
Walker scorched towards the home line in the first minute of the second half, only to be recalled by the whistle for an earlier forward pass.
Jonny Hepworth slipped out of a tackle, and made good ground into the Warriors 22, but the visitors’ defence eventually forced a turnover from home skipper Bedford.
Goode squandered a golden opportunity when he failed to release his support runners close to the home line, but the visitors soon added a third try from the resulting series of five metre scrums.
Former Gloucester winger Garvey provided the finish, after forward pressure sucked in the cover, and quick hands left the winger with a 15 metre sprint to the corner.
The bonus point try arrived shortly after the hour mark, as Benjamin claimed his second touchdown of the afternoon. The speedy winger gathered Garvey’s chip, after good interplay between Goode and Neil Best made ground.
Late substitutions saw the game open out, allowing the hosts to enjoy their first period of pressure. After Hepworth broke to the Warriors line, Ollie Frost was sin binned for not releasing in the tackle.
Rotherham: penalty: Socino.
Worcester: tries: Benjamin (2), Sanderson, Garvey; conversions: Goode (3); penalties: Goode (2).