EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP: Worcester 27 Bourgoin 6
Worcester Warriors director of rugby Mike Ruddock was frustrated to see former All Black wing Rico Gear limp off during his side’s European Challenge Cup pool three victory over Bourgoin at a rain-soaked Sixways.
The Kiwi speedster tweaked a groin muscle late in the first-half and was replaced as a precaution, but his exit did allow Hal Luscombe to make his debut for the club after seven months out with a knee injury.
Young fly-half Joey Carlisle kicked the Warriors to the win with 17 points, while former New Zealand international centre Sam Tuitupou and Tongan hooker Aleki Lutui put the gloss on the result with second-half tries.
Ruddock said: “It was frustrating to see Rico go off. In fairness, he had looked sharp and had got himself into the attacking line.
“It was slippery under-foot with a real difficult surface and unfortunately he felt a groin muscle strain. We took him off straight away rather than leave him trying to run it off. We took the view that with the importance of next week we would get him off and get our medical team to get it right.
“What it did provide was the opportunity to get Hal Luscombe on the pitch. He hasn’t played any rugby for seven months and he looked a little bit under prepared with his running style from the lad I remember. But I guess after a serious knee injury he has had no rugby and it was always going to look that way. But he will be pleased to have got on and contributed.
“I was only looking to give him 20 minutes at the end so it was more than we planned. But he is a quality player and I guess what he lacks in preparation and match hardness he will make up for with his experience.
“It is great to see him back on the pitch.”
Warriors began the game well despite the terrible playing conditions and raced into a nine-point by the 19th minute lead thanks to three Carlisle penalties. However, Bourgoin rallied over the next 10 minutes and pulled the score back to 9-6 with two penalties of their own from fly-half Sebastien Laloo.
Carlisle made it 12-6 with a 64th-minute penalty, before adding another three minutes later. Tuitupou and Lutui then crossed the whitewash, with Carlisle converting one of the scores, to put the gloss on a good victory for the Warriors.