Premiership: Worcester narrowly see off Leicester 24-16 in tight campaign opener
|Worcester (15) 24|
|Tries: Hill, Humphreys Cons: Weir Pens: Weir 4|
|Leicester (13) 16|
|Tries: T Youngs Cons: Hardwick Pens: Hardwick 3|
Worcester Warriors kept up their run of wins against Leicester Tigers as they saw out a narrow victory at Sixways in this Premiership season opener.
All the tries came in the first half as flanker Ted Hill and winger Perry Humphreys went over either side of hooker Tom Youngs crossing for Tigers.
After leading 15-13 at half-time, Warriors' Duncan Weir then won a second-half battle of the kickers.
Weir kicked four penalties, to three from Tom Hardwick, who missed twice.
Fellow centre EW Viljoen, on his Premiership debut, also failed with a long-distance penalty.
Stand-in kicker Hardwick was a late replacement at centre for dual-code England international Kyle Eastmond, who was ruled out by illness.
Leicester were also missing their six England World Cup players - Ben Youngs, George Ford, Jonny May, Manu Tuilagi, Dan Cole and Ellis Genge - as well as Tongan forward Sione Kalamafoni.
Their new-look side included three Premiership debutants, while 11 of the 23-man squad came through their academy. But their only score came via long-serving Youngs' try from a line-out drive.
By then, the powerful Hill, who won his first England cap as a late replacement at Twickenham 11 months ago, had burst through two tackles to score.
It was then neat handling from Chris Pennell and Cornell Du Preez which provided Humphreys with an easy run-in for his try. And, thanks to the boot of Weir, who kicked two late penalties, one from near halfway, they held their nerve to close out a rare first-day victory.
Warriors were still missing their two World Cup players, Samoa wing Ed Fidow and USA hooker Joe Taufete'e. But, after doing the league double over Leicester last season, and twice beating them in the Premiership Cup, last season and again a month ago, they were still well satisfied at making it five wins on the trot against the once mighty Tigers.
Another positive was Welshman Ashley Beck coming through a full 80 minutes on his first Premiership appearance in over a year since breaking his leg in the opening minutes of the European Challenge Cup win over Stade Francais in Paris - just four games into his Warriors career.
Warriors director of rugby Alan Solomons told BBC Hereford & Worcester:
"If you start the Premiership with a home game, it's important you win. It was a very tight affair but fortunately we came out on the right side of it.
"The players were a bit nervous as they knew there was a lot riding on it and we gave away penalties at key moments, which was a big factor in the game.
"Leicester were without a number of key players so we have to put the win in perspective but we knew it would be tough as they have good strength in depth.
"The message went out to kick the goal as I believed it was just within Duncan's range. His boot was invaluable but the game wasn't won until that last-minute penalty went over."
Leicester head coach Geordan Murphy:
"After 65 minutes, it was ours to win but we missed a couple of crucial goal-kicks, which always proves costly in the Premiership.
"We were still second best on the day. e were some way off our performances in pre-season as the intensity wasn't there and we were nervous and really sloppy.
"We were sharp at times and a bit better defensively but individual errors hurt us and they were the more accurate. The match was a litany of errors and lost possession .
"It was a really strange game and not pleasing to watch. It was a turgid affair as everyone seemed a little tense."
Worcester Warriors: Pennell; Humphreys, Beck, Mills, Nanai; Weir, Hougaard; Black, Annett, Carey, Bresler, Kitchener, Hill, Mama (capt), Du Preez.
Replacements: Fatialofa for G Kitchener (51), Waller for Black (56), van Velze for du Preez (63), Palframan for Carey (78),
Not used: Miller, Kitto, Lance, Venter.
Leicester Tigers: Worth; Thompstone, Viljoen, Hardwick, Holmes; Reid, White; Bateman, Youngs (capt), Heyes, Spencer, Green, Liebenberg, Reffell, Thompson.
Replacements: Kerr for Youngs (48), Olowofela for Thompstone (63), Harrison for White (63), Leatigaga for Heyes (63), Wells for Spencer (70), Gigena for Bateman (78).
Not used: Coghlan, Forsyth.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys.