Worcester are locked out by Monye's touchdowns

Worcester 23 Harlequins 30
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The Independent Online

Cecil Duckworth, the principle benefactor behind Worcester's slow but steady push towards Premiership viability, is due to be given the freedom of the city at a formal ceremony today. There were times last night when he would have preferred some solitary confinement in the local nick, especially when Harlequins were scoring with virtually every touch. But the Midlanders are nobody's pushovers these days and although they finished seven points shy of their gifted opponents, their resilience was something to behold.

If Worcester started with a hiss – they would have taken the lead inside 90 seconds but for a try-saving tackle from Gonzalo Tiesi on Kai Horstmann, and actually did so when Matthew Jones dropped a smart goal after excellent work from the debutant wing Charlie Fellows and the former All Black centre Sam Tuitupou – it was Harlequins who roared. Jones had barely finished celebrating his three-pointer when Ugo Monye claimed the first try of the night by touching down a dinky little kick to the left corner from Chris Malone.

It was the start of six horrible minutes for the home side, by the end of which they had conceded two more tries to the ultra-rapid Londoners. Tiesi, an Argentine centre of rich potential, took a cleverly delayed pass from Danny Care to score at the sticks – Malone added the extra from in front – before Mike Brown found a route through some heavy traffic on the left to finish a blinding move launched by David Strettle and maximised by Care, Will Skinner, Jordan Turner-Hall and Jim Evans.

Fourteen points to the bad, Worcester looked bemused, bothered and bewildered, and although they worked their way back into contest through the lively Jones, who kicked a penalty and then drifted out from the stand-off position to put a soft try past a Quins midfield already bashed around by the aggressive Tuitupou, there was worse to come. In the minutes before the interval, Malone nailed a penalty from distance and then slid another kick down the left flank for Monye to pounce a second time.

The bad news for Quins at the end of a breathless first half surrounded Strettle, whose England career has been interrupted more than once by injuries in the foot department. He copped it again in stoppage time, although there was no immediate word on the seriousness of this latest setback.

Quins were more subdued after the interval, partly because of Strettle's absence and partly because Miles Benjamin, one of the hot young wings on the Premiership beat, immediately cut a dash to the line after Chris Latham's intervention as the extra man going left. Jones converted magisterially from the touchline to bring Worcester back within a score, and although Malone banged over a long-range penalty six minutes later, the Worcester goal-kicker landed one of his own to ensure the outcome remained in doubt for the duration.

Scorers: Worcester: Tries Jones, Benjamin. Conversions Jones 2. Penalties Jones 2. Drop goal Jones. Harlequins: Tries Monye 2, Tiesi, Brown. Conversions Malone 2. Penalties Malone 2.

Worcester: C Latham; C Fellows, D Rasmussen (A Grove 69), S Tuitupou, M Benjamin; M Jones, R Powell (M Powell 63); M Mullan, A Lutui (C Fortey 75), T Taumoepeau (C Horsman 52), G Rawlinson (capt), C Gillies, K Horstmann (M Cox 40), T Wood, N Talei.

Harlequins: M Brown; D Strettle (C Amesbury 40), G Tiesi, J Turner-Hall, U Monye; C Malone, D Care (A Gomarsall 75); C Jones, G Botha (T Fuga 65), M Ross, O Kohn, J Evans, C Robshaw, W Skinner (capt), T Guest.

Referee: W Barnes (London).