Premiership: Worcester Warriors 36-24 London Irish - Hosts open season with well-earned win

Willi Heinz made an immediate impact on his Worcester Warriors debut as he scored their second try of the afternoon against London Irish
Willi Heinz made an immediate impact on his Worcester Warriors debut as he scored their second try of the afternoon against London Irish
Gallagher Premiership
Worcester (19) 36
Tries: Lewis, Heinz, Nanai, Kvesic, Humphreys Cons: Williams 4 Pens: Williams
London Irish (5) 24
Tries: Hassell-Collins, Tuisue, Hoskins 2 Cons: Jackson 2

Worcester Warriors opened their Premiership campaign with victory over a resilient London Irish at Sixways.

Ollie Hassell-Collins went over to get the visitors going but Worcester responded through Sam Lewis.

Willi Heinz scored on his Warriors debut, then Melani Nanai went over for the hosts just before half-time.

Albert Tuisue touched down for Irish, then Matt Kvesic bagged the hosts' bonus point before Oliver Hoskins and Perry Humphreys exchanging late tries.

Worcester suffered a miserable campaign last term, winning just once - against Irish on the opening day of the season. Their only three other 'wins' came from games called off by the opposition because of coronavirus scares.

But England scrum-half Heinz got off the mark on his first Premiership appearance for the club - one of seven summer signings in their squad for the season opener.

Irish, who lost their last six games of the 2020-21 season, had hoped to get back on track at Sixways, but they struggled to match Worcester's first-half tempo and then lost Ben White to the sin-bin on 32 minutes for a high tackle.

Tuisue's second-half try was given after being taken to the Television Match Official, but Paddy Jackson's wayward kicking ensured Worcester kept their nine-point cushion.

However, Hoskins' double as the game drew to a close ensured that the visitors finished strongly to claim a fourth-try bonus point, but it was not enough to undo Worcester's good work earlier on.

Warriors head coach Jonathan Thomas told BBC Hereford & Worcester:

"First and foremost, at the start of a season, a win is very important. A bonus point is the cherry on the cake.

"It was a start. We are not getting carried away at all. There is a huge amount of growth and much more to come as a team.

"Willi Heinz was exceptional. He is a really experienced player, with his Crusaders background in New Zealand and international rugby. He wants to help people grow.

London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney:

"You can see a lot of the good things we did and the scores we conceded, we can manage those.

"We got four tries and probably left one or two behind. It is a great league. There is no place for hiding.

"Errors are errors. These things happen, but our attitude was spot on."

Worcester: Nanai; Heward, Lawrence, Venter, Humphreys; Williams, Heinz (co-capt); Waller, Baldwin, Judge, Hatherell, Clegg, Hill (co-capt), Lewis, Kvesic.

Replacements: Annett, Thomas, Owlett, Garvey, Kitchener, Chudley, Shillcock, Morris.

London Irish: Parton; Rowe, Rona, Van Rensburg, Hassell-Collins; Jackson, White; Goodrick-Clarke, Creevy, Van der Merwe, Simmons, Coleman, Rogerson (capt), Donnell, Tuisue.

Replacements: Cornish, Dell, Hoskins, Nott, Cooke, O'Sullivan, Williams, Stokes.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys.