Premiership: Wasps beat Worcester 21-20 as Duncan Weir misses late drop-goal attempt
|Worcester (13) 20|
|Tries: Mills, Lewis Cons: Weir 2 Pens: Weir 2|
|Wasps (6) 21|
|Tries: Launchbury, Taylor Cons: Searle Pens: Searle 3|
Wasps survived a huge scare before recovering to edge out a spirited Worcester by 21-20 at Sixways.
Billy Searle's late penalty steered the visitors in front at the end of a game which Duncan Weir could have pinched for Worcester but his drop-goal missed.
Worcester were excellent, scoring tries by Ryan Mills and Sam Lewis, and Weir looking sharp from the kicking tee.
Yet Wasps did enough, scoring through Joe Launchbury and Tommy Taylor, to add to Searle's 11 points with the boot.
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On this evidence, despite only picking up a losing bonus point, Worcester will prove wrong a few pundits who have tipped them for a season of struggle in the Premiership.
New signing Weir looked at home in Alan Solomons' line-up, sniping in tandem with Francois Hougaard to cause Wasps endless problems.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young will have plenty to ponder from his side's display, in which they claimed the points but also looked clunky in attack and were easily shredded open at times as Worcester failed to make the most of opportunities.
Both Warriors tries were evidence of this, as first centre Mills highlighted the chinks in Wasps' armour when he powered through from five metres out in the first half, although the lead was pegged back after the break when Launchbury did likewise for Young's side.
Lewis carved through the Wasps backline to restore the lead almost instantly, before a sharp bit of short-side combination between Dan Robson and Taylor resulted in a try to bring Wasps within two points.
The conversion was missed, but scrum pressure led to a penalty that Wasps debutant Searle could not miss, and Wasps clung on amid the late drama.
Worcester director of rugby Alan Solomons told BBC Hereford & Worcester:
"That game was a really good performance from us but you have to look at it in context. During the course of the game, we lost players and we had Jono Lance playing on the flank and we had to deal with 14 men with Foti (Alafoti Faosiliva, who was sin-binned) off.
"And we had to deal with a penalty count of 20 against and seven for. That is massive. I have been in the game for a long time since it turned professional and I have never seen a penalty count like that.
"It had a massive influence on the game. We have got to study this. We will all go through this correctly and, if so, we will take it up through the correct channels."
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire:
"We had a poor start but I don't want to take anything away from Worcester. They were really good for the first 20 minutes and were by far the better team. We got back into contention by half-time, we edged our way back into it through the second half and hung in there right at the end.
"Both teams were probably a little bit rusty and we knew it was going to be a tough game, but I'm really pleased we found a way to win and really pleased with the attitude.
"If you would have given me a one-point win before the game, I would have accepted it. The first game is always tough and Worcester put out their best team on paper.
Worcester: Pennell; Heem, Venter, Mills, Adams; Weir, Hougaard; Black, Annett, Schonert, Bresler, Barry, Faosiliva, Lewis, van Velze (capt).
Replacements: Taufete'e, Bower, Kerrod, Kitchener, du Preez, Arr, Lance, Beck.
Wasps: Miller; Wade, Daly, De Jongh, Bassett; Searle, Robson; Harris, Cruse, Stuart, Launchbury (capt), Rowlands, Carr, Atkinson, Hughes.
Replacements: Taylor, Zhvania, Brookes, Matthews, Johnson, Simpson, Lovobalavu, Watson.