Shell-shocked champions Wasps left the Adams Park pitch white-faced and incredulous yesterday after losing a match they thought was as good as won with the last kick of the game.
Wasps, who have now lost both opening Premiership games, were just two points in front in the 11th minute of added time at the end of a scrappy, unfocused match, when they conceded a penalty.
Worcester had been getting worryingly close as the seconds counted down. A tap penalty saw left wing Miles Benjamin take it on and muscle into a swarm of Wasps defenders.
He was brought down by one desperate defender, but referee Martin Fox deemed that his tackler, believed to be Wasps lock Tom Palmer, had failed to release the tackled player and so awarded a penalty.
It fell to Loki Crichton to take the kick almost in front of the posts, and it was especially nerve-racking for the Samoan. The match hung on it. Two years ago, while playing for Newcastle, Crichton had missed a penalty from a similar position when playing against Worcester, for whom defeat would have meant certain relegation. Newcastle lost the match, Worcester stayed up.
Yesterday Crichton was able to provide the ultimate sting for Worcester by landing the kick, the last of the match, which presented the Warriors with their first victory on Wasps soil.
"It's unacceptable," said Ian McGeechan, Wasps' director of rugby. "Two defeats is a concern. We are making far too many errors and sometimes we are trying to play too much rugby. We need to be more patient."
There had been lingering early season rustiness evident on both sides in a scratchy first half that was littered with error. Worcester took the lead through a smart piece of opportunism by Sam Tuitupou.
Fullback Josh Lewsey failed to hang on to a high kick from Worcester fly-half Matthew Jones, the ball appearing to hit the fullback's right arm, although there was a suspicion that Tuitupou might have made contact with Lewsey at the instant he made the catch.
Whatever happened, the outcome was that the ball rebounded well wide of Lewsey – and Tuitupou, who had chased up hard, followed it, regathered and crossed for a simple touchdown. Jones unfortunately missed the conversion, although he did add a penalty six minutes later.
Wasps just could not seem to get it together. They looked ragged at times, their best attacks invariably ending up a blind alley with a muscular Warrior in waiting to snuff out the flame of hope for Wasps fans.
It was not until the final minutes of the first half that they broke their duck, when pressing hard on the Worcester line, scrum-half Owen Reddan's clever little reverse pass to Paul Sackey put the England winger over and Dave Walder, who had missed an earlier penalty, landed the conversion.
They finally nosed ahead in the 51st minute when Walder kicked a penalty, but thereafter it was a struggle for them as Worcester forced them into countless errors.
Wasps: Try Sackey; Conversion Walder; Penalty Walder. Worcester: Try Tuitupou; Penalties M Jones, Crichton.
Wasps: J Lewsey; P Sackey, D Waldouck, R Flutey,
T Voyce; D Walder, E Reddan; T Payne, R Ibanez (capt; R Webber, h-t), P Vickery (P Barnard, 76), S Shaw (R Birkett, 37), T Palmer, J Worsley (J Hart, 73), T Rees, J Haskell.
Worcester: C Latham; C Pennell, D Rasmussen, S Tuitupou, M Benjamin; M Jones (L Crichton, 61), R Powell (B Jones, 76); M Mullan, A Lutui (C Fortey, 71), C Horsman (T Taumoepeau, 46), G Rawlinson (capt), W Bowley, T Wood, J Collins (K Horstmann, 52), N Talei.
Referee: M Fox (Leicestershire).Reuse content