Worcester 11 Northampton 15: White's call is black for Worcester

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The Independent Online

On Friday the Worcester wing Aisea Havili learned that he has to appear before a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel this evening. On Saturday he was robbed of two possible tries by the television match official. The second came with a minute and 18 seconds left on the clock.

Havili slid over the Northampton line, right forefinger raised in a triumphant salute, only to find the referee, Chris White, bringing play back 20 metres to where Shane Drahm made a forward pass.

The final seconds were a dreadful anticlimax to a wonderful Worcester fightback. In the last 10 minutes it was all Saints could do to hang on. Their assistant coach, Paul Grayson, said: "I've been on the end of a few of those decisions. Some you win, some you lose."

Worcester took it on the chin and their head coach, Anthony Eddy, said: "If it was forward then it was a fair call; if not it was an unfortunate one. Whatever, there is nothing we can do about it. You just move on."

Saints matched James Brown's penalty with a Bruce Reihana success in the first half, then asserted themselves after the break. Jon Clarke, their outside-centre, looked particularly good. "He's a natural," said Grayson. "He's an England player of the future."

The deadlock was broken in the 63rd minute after a break up the middle by Clarke ended with England's hooker Steve Thompson being put over by Reihana. Ben Cohen then beat off Havili to gather a cross kick for a 69th-minute try.

Kai Horstmann rounded off a passage of pressure for Worcester with eight minutes left. Havili's 79th-minute agony followed, but Worcester at least had the consolation of a bonus point.

Worcester: Try Horstmann; Penalties Brown, Drahm. Northampton: Tries Thompson, Cohen; Conversion Spencer; Penalty Reihana.

Worcester: T Delport; A Havili, D Rasmussen, T Lombard, M Tucker; J Brown (S Drahm, 51), M Powell (A Gomarsall, 65); T Windo (capt), C Fortey (G Hickie, 32-40), T Taumoepeau (L Fortey, 75), P Murphy, C Gillies, K Horstmann, J Taumoheloa (T Harding, 66), D Hickey (E O'Donoghue, 61).

Northampton: B Reihana (co-capt); S Lamont, J Clarke, R Kydd (A Vilk, 65), J Rudd (B Cohen, 36); C Spencer, M Robinson; T Smith (S Emms, 61), S Thompson (co-capt), C Budgen (D Hartley, 78), Damien Browne, M Lord (D Gerard, 61), P Tupai, B Lewitt, Daniel Browne (G Seely, 61).

Referee: C White (Gloucestershire).

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