Rugby Union: Myler is all smiles

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Coventry 26

Worcester 36

THE CONTRASTING fortunes of rugby clubs entering the professional era could not be more sharply defined by the fates of Coventry and Worcester. By the end of last season Coventry were relegated and had called in the receivers, while Worcester boast financial security, a brand new stadium, and six promotions in nine years.

But both are now challenging for elevation to Premier One and this fixture gave one of them the chance to test themselves against the elite in the next round of the Tetley Cup. In the end it was Worcester that showed the greater edge and ambition.

The superior mobility of Worcester's pack coupled with ruthless exploitation of scoring opportunities gave them a commanding 21-9 first half lead. By contrast, Coventry spurned two simple chances.

Worcester's first try was a product of sustained driving from the base of the ruck by their back row, which finally allowed scrum-half Bruce Fenley to break free and feed Rob Myler with the simplest of scoring passes. Their two other first-half tries owed more to weight and cohesive work in the tight to speed over the ground. Both were driven over from line- out breakdowns close to the Coventry line with prop Mark Linnett and lock Richard Denhardt benefiting from Worcester's close control.

If Worcester had a fault during the match, it was a tendency to give away needless offsides. Steve Gough, the prolific kicker who passed 150 points for the season in this match, kicked three first-half penalties to keep Coventry in touch.

With the forward battle all but lost, Coventry abandoned caution in true Cup tradition in the second half with spectacular results. In 10 blistering and exhausting minutes they scored twice in the same corner after two separate 40 yard sprints by their wings, Andy Smallwood and Andy McAdam. Coventry did manage one more late try by Nick Curtis but by then the Worcester pack had asserted their authority and tries from Myler and Simon Morris put the match beyond a tiring Coventry's reach.

Coventry: W Kilford; A McAdam, R Robinson, M Curtis, A Smallwood; S Gough, T Dawson; A Sharp, D Addleton, S Kerr (M Crane, 80), M Fountaine, K Whitley, L Crofts, D Eves, J Horrobin (capt).

Worcester: J Liley; S Morris, D Hughes, R Myler, N Baxter; N Malone, B Fenley (capt); M Linnett, D Ball (T Beddow, 80), N Lyman, R Denhardt, S Lloyd, R Hilton-Jones, N Richardson, E Orgee (T Smith, 56).

Referee: C White (Gloucester)