Catt's drop goal drags Irish through

Worcester 7 - London Irish 9
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Everything in English rugby's garden is lovely. There are quality players galore who are keeping the national team motivated with consistently high-standard performances.

Everything in English rugby's garden is lovely. There are quality players galore who are keeping the national team motivated with consistently high-standard performances.

If you believe those two sentences - as many rugby followers within England and beyond seem to - then think again.

The protagonists at Sixways all looked toned, honed, fit and powerful, but there were few exceptions to the role of journeyman. Those few included Worcester's truly outstanding line-out operator Craig Gillies and Irish's Mike Catt, who showed his pedigree with the snap 79th-minute drop goal that put the contest beyond doubt.

But their efforts could not disguise the fact that, for all the huff and puff generated by these two teams, there was little sign of the wit and wisdom, let alone the killer instinct and attacking pace, that this cup tie desperately needed.

Having dominated the opening hour and found themselves with a two-man advantage for five first-half minutes while Chris Horsman and Thomas Lombard shared the sin bin, Irish, bafflingly, found themselves only 6-0 ahead going into the last quarter.

The Exiles' failure to make the most of their domination gave Worcester the game's psychological momentum, but they proved equally unable to take advantage.

Having replaced the fly-half Mark Mapletoft, Barry Everitt, with an impressive touch-finder, created the field position from which Catt, who had also been sent to the sin bin, dropped the winning goal. And while Worcester can be commended for forcing an 82nd-minute penalty try from a close-range scrum, converted by the scrum-half Matt Powell, they and English rugby in general found little else to cheer in this contest.

Worcester: Try Penalty try; Conversion Powell. London Irish: Penalties Mapletoft 2; Drop goal Catt.

Worcester: T Delport; D O'Leary (P Sampson, 53), D Rasmussen (T Hayes, 66), T Lombard, G Pieters; J Brown, M Powell; T Windo (capt; L Fortey, 63), A van Niekerk, C Horsman, T Collier, C Gillies, S Viali (L Fortey, 25-33), B MacLeod-Henderson, D Hickey.

London Irish: M Horak; J Bishop, G Appleford (K Barrett, 54-58), M Catt, S Staniforth; M Mapletoft (B Everitt, 52), P Hodgson; D Wheatley, R Russell (D Paice, 69), R Hardwick, N Kennedy (R Strudwick, 63), B Casey, D Danaher, Phil Murphy (R Reid, 60), K Dawson (capt; P Gustard, 60).

Referee: H Watkins (Neath).

Comments