Leeds Carnegie 26 Worcester 21: Worcester fight but di Bernardo's boot is too tough

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The Independent Online

Before the season began, Leeds Carnegie were being touted as clear relegation certainties – no mention was made of Worcester. At Headingley last night both sides were without a win after four games, but Leeds, led splendidly by Alberto di Bernardo, were so much better than Worcester for most of this game that the team from the West Midlands are still without a win, and their season looks certain to end in trouble.

Worcester began sharply. Shane Drahm missed with an attempted drop at goal after a couple of minutes but a minute later landed a penalty before being felled illegally by Carnegie captain, Stuart Hooper, who was yellow-carded.

Despite playing against 14 men, Worcester could not find a way across the Leeds line. The home team fought back and Di Bernardo dropped a goal before putting his side ahead with a penalty.

Di Bernardo had two more chances to keep Leeds in front. A dropped goal and a penalty both sailed wide before the Argentinian outside-half popped a ball over the Worcester cover for Hooper to gather at pace and stride across for a try, converted by Di Bernardo.

Drahm then struck a penalty to make it 13-6 at half-time, though Worcester were struggling badly.

Leeds handed Worcester a lifeline when Drahm was shunted while kicking. A penalty was given within sight of the posts, Drahm kicked it good and true.

Then came the moments which turned the game. In the first, Ryan Powell's pass was taken by Jonny Hepworth, who made 70 metres before scoring. Jon Goodridge got the second when Worcester lost control of the ball on their own line for the full-back to score. Di Bernardo failed to convert either touchdown.

In a dramatic finish, with Rob Rawlinson in the sin-bin, Worcester upped the ante for Ryan Powell to touch down at 26-21, to make it anybody's game, but it was not enough.

Leeds: J Goodridge; L Hinton, J Hepworth, R Blackett, T Biggs; A di Bernardo, J Bedford; F Pala'amo, V Ma'asi, C Noon, S Hooper (captain), E Lund, R Oakley, C Clark, M Lock.

Worcester: S Drahm; T Delport, D Rasmussen, M Tucker, M Garvey; J Brown, M Powell; T Windo, C Fortey, C Horsman, P Murphy, C Gillies, D Hickey, P Sanderson (captain), K Horstmann.

Referee: R Debney (Loughborough).

* The former Italy scrum-half Alessandro Troncon has retired from all rugby and hopes to become a coach. Italy's most-capped player said he would retire from international rugby after the World Cup but has now quit completely. Troncon, 34, made his 101st Italy appearance as stand-in captain in the 18-16 defeat to Scotland. He said: "I will not be able to give what I want. I like training but with old age I have discovered my limits. I would like to... try to be a coach but don't have a coaching badge, only experience on the field, and I know that is not enough."