REPORT: Worcester Warriors 31-25 Bristol Rugby
A first half try from Giorgi Nemsadze and late scores from Jack Wallace and Tom Varndell saw the visitors claw their way back having trailed 31-13 with ten minutes to play – but a spell of late pressure was to no avail as Worcester held on for the win.What happened?After spending the opening five minutes very much in the ascendency, Bristol found themselves behind when Josh Adams scooped up a loose pass to charge in from 50 metres.But they hit back immediately and following another spell of possession in Worcester territory, Giorgi Nemsadze’s neat footwork saw him coast in from close range, while Searle’s conversion nudged the visitors into a narrow lead.Searle extended the lead further with a beautifully struck penalty from 40 metres out and a second on 22 minutes – from much closer range – put Bristol 13-5 ahead.With the half drawing to a close, Worcester fought their way back with a second try of the night courtesy of Max Stelling, who was the beneficiary of some sharp handling from Shillcock and Pennell in the hosts’ backline. The fly half’s conversion was again off target, fading across the face of the posts to give Bristol a one-point lead at the interval.TRY-TIME: Giorgi Nemsadze dives over for Bristol’s opening try at Sixways (Photo: JMP UK).The second half began poorly for the visitors, with Rob Hawkins sent to the sin-bin just two minutes in – and the Warriors took instant advantage as Josh Adams crossed for his second of the evening, with Shillcock nailing the touchline conversion.Things got worse for Bristol on 49 minutes when Jack Wallace’s sin-binning – for a high tackle – saw them reduced to 13 men for a short period.Warriors’ numerical advantage paid dividend again not long after, with scrum half Michael Dowsett cruising in untouched and Shillcock once again adding the extras for a 24-13 lead.Max Stelling then produced a moment of magic for his second of the night, racing down the left wing before collecting his own chip ahead and shaking off the covering Bristol defence. Shillcock’s touchline conversion was on target again.Bristol though, refused to lie down and pulled a score back 12 minutes from time through Jack Wallace, who went over from close range after Luke Arscott’s interception had taken them to within two metres of the Worcester line. Searle stroked over the conversion to maintain his 100 percent record from the tee.BREAKAWAY: Rhodri Williams takes on the Worcester defence (Photo: JMP UK). They closed the gap further when Tom Varndell sprinted in from 30 metres after latching on to Wallace’s beautifully timed pass to leave just a six-point deficit heading into the final few minutes.With time ticking away, Varndell was soon back in the thick of the action, chipping ahead before taken out illegally by Matt Cox, who was shown a yellow card.From the resulting penalty, Bristol kicked to the corner only to see their maul rebuffed by the home pack.The visitors came again, but were once again shutdown by a resilient Worcester defence, before a knock-on in midfield signalled the end of a tense cup clash.Key moment:Two yellow cards early in the second half – to Rob Hawkins and Jack Wallace – cost Bristol dear as Worcester ran in 14 unanswered points in that period.Photo of the match:IN THE CLEAR: Tom Varndell races to the try line in the closing stages (Photo: JMP UK). Man of the match: Giorgi NemsadzeThe big Georgian was at his barnstorming best at Sixways, opening the scoring in the first half and putting himself in the thick of the action throughout the evening with some strong ball carrying and neat linnet work.Social post of the day: The teams: Bristol Rugby: Jack Wallace, Tom Varndell, Gareth Maule (Arscott 61), James Newey, David Lemi (c); Billy Searle, Rhodri Williams (Uren 61); Soane Tonga’uiha (O’Connell 54), Rob Hawkins (Shervington 63), Jamal Ford-Robinson (Hall 63), Giorgi Nemsadze, Ian Evans (Hawkins 65), Nick Koster, Olly Robinson (Smid 63), Nick Fenton-Wells.Replacements: Edd Shervington, Jack O’Connell, James Hall, John Hawkins, Rayn Smid, Andy Uren, Elias Caven, Luke Arscott.Worcester Warriors: Chris Pennell (C), Josh Adams, Max Stelling, Jackson Willison (Heathcote 67), Andy Short, Jamie Shillcock, Michael Dowsett (De Colthi 64); Na’ama Leleimalefaga (Bower 54), Jack Singleton (Annett 64), James Johnston (Alo 40), Andrew Kitchener, Charlie Hewitt, Dewald Potgieter, Huw Taylor, Matt Cox.Replacements: Niall Annett, Ryan Bower, Biyi Alo, Justin Clegg, Sam Ripper-Smith, George de Cothi, Tom Heathcote, Afeafe Haisila Lokotui.