Harlequins 36 Worcester 15: Intensive Care keeps Worcester on brink

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The Independent Online

Worcester's Welsh coaches, Mike Ruddock and Clive Griffiths, might have hoped for a year's grace, given that their signings from Down Under were not with them until a third of the way through the season. The Premiership does not work like that. The top eight or nine have their eyes on Heineken Cup qualification; the bottom two or three live in constant fear of the drop.

So here we had Worcester at sixth-placed Quins, who had a couple of stars out injured. "People ask me where I want us to finish and it's higher than last year, which was seventh," said Dean Richards, Harlequins' director of rugby.

Worcester had two spells in the last quarter with a man in the sin bin and Quins punished them with three tries, for five in all. "It was frustrating only in as much as we missed so many opportunities" said Richards. "I was quite pleased with this performance."

Worcester have won one Premiership match – at home to Bristol – although losing bonus points keep them clear of Leeds. They got nothing here. Quins mustered around the tireless Will Skinner at open-side flanker and scrum-half Danny Care, the 21-year-old who has mostly been understudy to Andy Gomarsall, the England incumbent who was missing yesterday with a back problem. Gomarsall should be fit to vie with Sale's Richard Wigglesworth for a starting berth against France on Saturday but Care, an England Saxon, is one of the coming men.

He was given every chance to shine. After five minutes Skinner broke from a ruck but his pass to Care was batted down by Rico Gear. Six minutes later the roles were reversed, Care sprinting through and Skinner's chip over Thinus Delport taking him over for Quins' first try.

Adrian Jarvis converted easily enough, but let himself down with four misses before half-time and another in the 52nd minute, comprising four penalties and the conversion of Hal Luscombe's 16th-minute try. That score began at a line-out overthrow – or was it a planned move? – which Care caught before the forwards drove and Jarvis combined with Tosh Masson to put Luscombe over.

Worcester lost their captain, Pat Sanderson, to an arm injury and his replacement, Netani Talei, with a damaged knee. A penalty by their fly-half, James Brown, was followed by a try in the 25th minute for Gear after a run by a fellow All Black, Sam Tuitupou.

An over-ambitious pass by Nick Easter ruined a decent position for Quins. Early in the second half Worcester wasted a gigantic overlap. Mike Brown, Quins' full-back, took over the tee from Jarvis, and missed. Worcester's Drew Hickey then went to the sin-bin and Jarvis, finally, made it 15-8.

Worcester were losing their rag. Hickey came back and off went Tuitupou, so the visitors played 20 minutes with 14 men. "Our indiscipline has contributed hugely to where we are in the league," said Ruddock, who promised to get in a top-ranking referee to hammer home the laws. With Jarvis's boot suddenly in working order the scoreline altered rapidly. Steve So'oialo and Masson, from Jarvis's grubber, brought up the bonus point.

There was a try for Worcester when Brown charged down Jarvis and converted. Otherwise there was little but worry for the Warriors and Tom Williams finished them off with a try converted by the now unerring Jarvis.

Harlequins: M Brown; T Williams, H Luscombe,T Masson, U Monye (S So'oialo, 61); A Jarvis, D Care; C Jones, T Fuga (C Brooker, 72), M Ross, J Percival, N Spanghero (G Robson, 68), C Robshaw, N Easter (capt; C Hala'Ufia, 78), W Skinner (P Volley, 72).

Worcester: T Delport (M Garvey, 71); R Gear, D Rasmussen, S Tuitupou, M Benjamin; J Brown, R Powell (M Powell, 68); T Windo (M Mullan, 62), A Lutui, T Taumoepeau (S Ruwers, 75), G Rawlinson, C Gillies, D Hickey, K Horstmann, P Sanderson (capt; N Talei, 27; W Bowley, 68).

Referee: D Pearson (Northumberland).

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