Walker kicks stuffing out of sorry Leeds

Worcester 27 Leeds Carnegie 7
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The Independent Online

These are early days in the season to be talking of relegation but all the evidence from Sixways last night suggested Leeds will be facing a familiar struggle to stay in the Premiership.

Leeds, relegated and promoted twice in the previous four seasons, were easily second best to a side who are also familiar with the wrong end of the table and they rarely threatened their first away win at this level in almost four years.

A fumble by Richard Welding, which gifted Marcel Garvey Worcester's second try, just about summed up a miserable evening for Leeds who managed a draw on their last visit to Sixways, the only time they were not beaten on the road the last time they were in the Premiership.

But the stuffing had already been knocked out of Leeds by nine points from Willie Walker in the first seven minutes of the second half. The Worcester fly-half slotted two penalties either side of a beautifully struck drop goal from 45 metres.

There were brief moments of encouragement for Leeds including a well-worked opening try. Alfie To'oala drove from the base of a five-metre scrum, former England scrum-half Andy Gomarsall –who was controversially released by Worcester three years ago – threw out a long pass and Jonny Hepworth sliced through a gaping hole in the defence.

But Leeds were wobbly in the set piece, particularly the scrums where they are weak at the moment in the absence of international props Fosi Pala'amo and Mike MacDonald, who have had problems obtaining visas. The much-travelled Alex Moreno, signed on loan from Calvisano, came off the bench against one of his former clubs.

Leeds also struggled to win their own line-outs for a time after hooker Rob Rawlinson hobbled off in the first half, a stray throw from his replacement, Vili Ma'asi, leading to Worcester's first try.

Scotland A centre Alex Grove, one of seven academy products in Worcester's squad, picked the gap and clattered through it leaving Walker, who had opened the scoring with a fourth-minute penalty, to add a conversion.

Grove did his bit to let Leeds back into the game when he was sin-binned for killing the ball, but Leeds could not make their brief numerical superiority count.

Walker banged over a third penalty late in the game to seal a win that Worcester hope will go towards ensuring their survival, even though we are only two games into the season.

Worcester: C Latham; M Garvey, A Grove, S Tuitupou (R Gear, 71), M Benjamin; W Walker (G Crook, 77), R Powell (J Arr, 73); M Mullan (A Black, 66), A Lutui (C Fortey, 63), T Taumopeau (S Ruwers, 74), G Rawlinson (G Kitchener, 66), C Gillies, T Wood, P Sanderson (captain) (N Talei, 71), K Horstmann.

Leeds: J Goodridge; R Welding, J Hepworth, S Barrow, L Blackett (S Armstrong, 63); C Thomas (H Paul, 62), A Gomarsall (S Mathie, 53); G Hardy, R Rawlinson (V Ma'asi, 15), T McGee (A Moreno, 58), E Lund, M Wetzel (captain) (D Paul, 44), K Myall, H Fourier (C Clark, 69), A To'oala.

Referee: G Garner (London).