London Irish maintained their unbeaten 2008 Guinness Premiership run when they edged the Worcester Warriors 12-11 – thanks to the boot of Australian import Peter Hewat.
Report courtesy www.rugby365.com
Hewat kicked 12 points as London Irish survived a second-half fightback from Worcester.
The 28-year-old fullback kicked three first-half penalties and then added a drop-goal just after the break to put the Irish to set up the win for the Exiles.
After crossing the line for the only try of the match in the first half, through New Zealand wing Rico Gear, Worcester hit back in the second through penalties from Loki Crichton and replacement Shane Drahm – to bring the game to within one point.
And despite some ferocious late pressure Brian Smith’s men hung on for their sixth straight win, which sends the Exiles up to sixth in the table.
Worcester remain rooted in their relegation dogfight with Leeds and were once again made to pay for their indiscipline.
Twice in the opening stages they conceded needless penalties but they were not to pay as Delon Armitage, on his 100th appearance for Irish, missed both kicks.
But when referee Rob Debney penalised the home side for crossing the kicking duties changed hands.
This time Hewat stepped up and made no mistake to give the Exiles a 13th-minute lead and that was doubled after Drew Hickey spoke out of turn to referee.
After 31 minutes, Warriors roared back into the game with a Gear try in the corner following a strong rolling maul and some good interplay with left wing Miles Benjamin.
But Crichton missed the conversion and Hewat extended Irish’s advantage to four points with another penalty after Worcester had been penalised for collapsing a scrum.
London Irish started the second-half by stealing a Warriors line-out and Hewat slotted a drop-goal.
The Warriors’ comeback began when Mike Catt dwelt on his clearance, which allowed Kai Horstmann to charge the ball down and, although Irish secured the ball, they were penalised for not releasing and Crichton pulled the score back to 12-8.
Hewat could have given Irish some breathing space but blotted his copybook by missing a penalty after Tevita Taumoepeau had been spotted coming in at the side.
Warriors’ replacement flyhalf Drahm went straight into the action after coming on for Crichton, slotting a 35-metre penalty after Irish had strayed offside.
There was a let off for Drahm as his wild inside pass flew straight to Richard Skuse, who surged to the Warriors line before knocking on.
In the last minute, Marcel Garvey won Worcester a line-out when his kick through was carried into touch.
Warriors won the line-out and staged a late rally, but the Irish defence held firm leaving the hosts to settle for a losing bonus point
For Worcester Warriors:
Pens: Crichton, Drahm
For London Irish:
Pens: Hewat 3
Worcester Warriors: 15 Thinus Delport, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Loki Crichton, 9 Matt Powell, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Pat Sanderson (captain), 6 Drew Hickey, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Tony Windo.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Ruwers, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Will Bowley, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Ryan Powell, 21 Shane Drahm, 22 Marcel Garvey.
London Irish: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Delon Armitage, 12 Nils Mordt, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Mike Catt, 9 Warren Fury, 8 Richard Thorpe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Kieran Roche, 5 Bob Casey (captain), 4 James Hudson, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 Danie Coetzee, 1 Tonga Lea’aetoa.
Replacements: 16 Dan Murphy, 17 David Paice, 18 Richard Skuse, 19 Nick Kennedy, 20 Juan Leguizamon, 21 Ben Stevenson, 22 Gonzalo Tiesi.
Referee: Rob Debney (33rd Premiership game)Tweet