Rugby Union: Rotherham down the high-fliers

Rotherham 29 Worcester 19
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The Independent Online
ROTHERHAM injected some variety into the Premiership Two title race with a thunderous victory against high-flying Worcester at Clifton Lane. And although there were only 10 points in it, there was no doubting Rotherham's right to their second big prize of the season - they have already beaten the other promotion challengers Bristol - as they outscored Worcester by four tries to one.

Until Rotherham tired towards the end, Worcester had not looked as if they would score a try, relying instead on the boot of John Liley, who kicked four penalties to keep his side in the game.

Liley had stroked a simple penalty after 10 minutes, which was the signal for the home forwards to mount their first convincing assault on the Worcester line. Richard Le Bas was far too slow in attempting a clearance, his kick was charged down and Greg Austin was on hand to take full advantage and score the opening try. Jake Niarchos converted and Worcester were in no doubt as to the size of the task they faced.

Although Worcester had won their previous seven Premiership matches, Rotherham had not been beaten in the league on their cramped South Yorkshire ground since last January. Not one of the three promoted sides managed to win here last season, where Rotherham are rarely intimidated by the big names in front of their own folk, and ultimately it proved to be beyond big-spending Worcester.

Liley slotted another penalty, but Rotherham kept up the pressure, fully expecting the mistakes to come. Sure enough they did. This time the miscreant was Peter Mitchell. As Austin took the ball into the danger area, the tight-head prop's tackle was hopelessly ineffectual and Austin was across for his second try.

A hat-trick beckoned when Niarchos slid a sublime grubber into goal, but the ball had touched the dead-ball line before Austin reached it, so Rotherham had to be content with a lead of 14-6 at the break. Liley then answered a Niarchos penalty with two of his own, before the Worcester defence allowed Ben Wade to put Matt Walker into the corner.

Ally McLaughlin did eventually get a try for Worcester, but Rotherham had the last word when Mike Umaga got on the end of Dave Scully's neat chip to smash in at the corner.

Rotherham: M Umaga; A Buzza, G Austin, J Harper, M Walker; J Niarchos, D Scully; S Bnting, T Garnett, R Hanson, J Dudley (G Webster, 75), G Kenworthy, B Wade, N Spence, M Schmid.

Worcester: J Liley; S Morris, D Hughes, A McLaughlin, R Myler (P Hassan, 45); R Le Bas (N Malone, 32), B Fenley; M Linnett, D Ball, P Mitchell (S Turner, 54), C Raymond, S Lloyd (R Denhardt, 62), R Hilton-Jones, N Richardson, J Jenner.

Referee: S Lander (Liverpool).

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