Worcester repel bold Pirates to rejoin elite

Worcester 25 Cornish Pirates 20
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The Independent Online

Relief all round: at Twickenham, where the strangely lopsided and all-but-endless second-tier Championship format was devised, and at Worcester, the poor souls forced to negotiate the numerous pitfalls and elephant traps built into the system in an effort to reclaim the Premiership status they forfeited this time last year. Two tries down the left wing in the space of as many minutes at the start of the second half took the tie just out of reach of the men from far-flung Cornwall and as a result, Leeds had their relegation confirmed.

Had the visitors taken Sixways by storm – had they not only won last night's game but overturned the nine-point deficit they brought with them from the first leg of the final in Penzance – they would have been toasted to within an inch of their lives up there in the equally far-flung broad acres. Unable to meet the promotion criteria, the West Countrymen would have saved Leeds' bacon.

They were not quite up to it, despite an eye-catching performance from their inventive outside-half Jonny Bentley, who repeatedly ripped up the Worcester midfield defence. An early Worcester try in the right corner, created by the impressively mobile No 8 Kai Horstmann and finished by the wing Marcel Garvey, eased the hometown paranoia and after turning round 13-6 to the good – 16 points up in real money – the favourites finished the job immediately on the resumption.

First, Miles Benjamin set sail down the touchline for the simplest of scores, and he was followed, geographically if not stylistically, by Andy Goode, the occasional England outside-half. Goode converted one of these five-pointers, adding to the eight points he had bagged in the opening period, and the prospects of the Pirates causing trouble from there were a long way short of great.

Not that they gave up. Bentley's blind-side burst was finished in style by the centre Drew Locke and with the Cornish pack refreshed by the additions of David Ward and Ian Nimmo, the home side were made to work increasingly hard. Indeed, the Pirates turned the tables completely on the physically superior Worcester pack by sweating out a penalty try for themselves at the last knockings.

Worcester Tries: Garvey, Benjamin, Goode; Conversions: Goode 2; Penalty: Goode. Drop goal: Goode.

Cornish Pirates Tries: Locke, penalty try; Conversions: Cook 2; Penalties: Cook 2.

Worcester C Pennell (capt); M Garvey, A Grove, D Rasmussen (A Crockett, 72), M Benjamin; A Goode (J Carlisle, 72), J Arr; A Black, C Fortey (A Lutui, 40), T Taumoepeau (B Douglas, 77), G Rawlinson (G Kitchener, 72), C Gillies, N Best (A Balding, 80), M Kvesic, K Horstmann.

Cornish Pirates R Cook; R McAtee (T Luke, h-t), M Hopper, D Locke, N Jackson; J Bentley, G Cattle (capt, J Doherty, 63); R Stoker (P Andrew, 58), R Elloway (D Ward, 58), C Rimmer (A Paver, 63), L McGlone (I Nimmo, 47), M Myerscough, C Morgan, P Burgess (S Betty, 47), K Marriott.

Referee J P Doyle (London West).