Shield reinforces Stimpson

Worcester 43 Leeds 34
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The Independent Online

The biggest thing at stake for players on both sides in this work-out was selection for the Zurich Premiership matches this weekend. Leeds and Worcester, the two clubs propping up the table, face crucial matches against Gloucester and Newcastle respectively, both of them away. Defeat would bring relegation that much nearer.

So the European Shield - for first-round losers in the Challenge Cup - is not exactly a priority right now, except for players returning from injury and looking to win a place back in the team. The Leeds full-back Tim Stimpson was one such on Saturday.

Stimpson had been out of action with a shoulder injury for the previous four weeks and with stern competition for the No 15 jersey - the England full-back Iain Balshaw is among his rivals - the former Leicester player was keen to impress. The fact that he scored two tries and put in a flawless display with his goal-kicking to amass 24 points will have stood him in good stead.

Having built a half-time lead of 15 points, however, Leeds allowed Worcester to score 24 back in a quarter of an hour after the interval. For two-thirds of that spell Leeds were down to 14 men after Diego Albanese was sent to the sin bin. He was adjudged to have deliberately knocked-on with Worcester pressing and a penalty try was awarded. Two further tries were scored in his absence and the match was effectively over.

Stimpson, however, looked at the margin of nine points and said later: "Worcester should not feel secure with that lead when they come to us on 22 April." By then one or both of them might be feeling even less secure about their Premiership status.

Worcester: Tries Hylton, Delport 2, Penalty, Sampson, Trueman; Conversions Hayes 5; Penalty Hayes. Leeds: Tries Hooper, Bell, Stimpson 2; Conversions Stimpson 4; Penalties Stimpson 2.

Worcester: T Delport; P Sampson (J Brown, 73), B Hinshelwood, G Trueman, J Hylton (D Roke, 30); T Hayes, N Cole; S Sparks, A van Niekirk (B Daly, h-t), L Fortey (T Windo, h-t; C Hall, 58), P Murphy, B MacLeod-Henderson, S Vaili, N Mason, D Hickey.

Leeds: T Stimpson; D Rees, P Christophers, C Bell (D Albanese, h-t), T Biggs; C McMullen, A Dickens (M McMillan, 55); M Cusack, R Rawlinson, M Holt, S Hooper (capt), T Palmer (S Morgan, 55), J Dunbar, D Hyde, A Popham.

Referee: N Owen (Wales).