Worcester 25 Bristol 5: Regan recovers after misery at Worcester

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The Independent Online

The England head coach, Brian Ashton, was yesterday given some good news – the Bristol hooker Mark Regan has recovered from the "stinger" injury he sustained early in the second half against Worcester.

Regan, 36 today, was seen yesterday by Bristol's medical team, who decided no further treatment was needed on his left shoulder and the hooker joined up with the England squad yesterday evening.

Regan's mishap could not dampen the mood at Sixways, where the fans were able to celebrate the club's first Premiership win of the season.

They looked superbly organised from one to 15. The pack outplayed Bristol to an unbelievable degree, the visitors lost around a dozen line-outs on their own throw, and on the rare occasion Worcester lost one they were quickly able to regain possession before the West Country side could use the ball.

It wrapped up a pretty poor week for Bristol, who had been docked a point for playing an ineligible player, Haydn Thomas, last month.

Given that Worcester had been 13 points adrift of 10th-placed Bristol, this defeat could be regarded as another four points thrown away.

A bewildered Richard Hill, the Bristol director of rugby, said: "I'm bitterly disappointed. We didn't play well today, and I don't know why. Some individual performances were not good, but I have seen this before. We just cannot string together big games week in, week out.

"The line-out was poor, we lost five on the trot in the first half. We are suffering badly with injuries and we picked up three more today. Worcester deserved to win, we were abject. But it's not the end of the world, we will be stopping off for a drink on the way home and we will bounce back."

Worcester had gone into the game on the back of an unbeaten European campaign, their six victories in the Challenge Cup earning them top seeding for the quarter-finals.

The confidence was apparent throughout, although they could not turn first-half dominance into points, but after the interval that changed.

"It's coming together," said Mike Ruddock the Worcester director of rugby. But he denied that he was relieved that the win had finally come in the 11th game of the season. "It's not relief, I knew it would happen, it was just a matter of time."

It would have been a far more convincing win had Loki Crichton not missed three of his five penalty attempts. He still managed to convert two of their three tries, all of which were scored in the second half.

Worcester: Tries Sanderson, Rawlinson, Rasmussen; Conversions Crichton 2; Penalties Crichton 2. Bristol: Try T Arscott.

Worcester: T Delport; R Gear (C Pennell, 80+3), D Rasmussen (J Brown, 80+3), S Tuitupou, M Benjamin; L Crichton, M Powell (R Powell, 78); D Morris (C Black, 80+5),

A Lutui (M Mullan, 74), T Taumoepeau, G Rawlinson, C Gillies (W Bowley, 78), D Hickey (N Talei, 66), P Sanderson (capt), K Horstmann.

Bristol: L Arscott; T Arscott (L Robinson, ht), R Higgitt, D Hill, A Elliott; J Strange (J Taumalolo, 72), G Beveridge (B O'Riordan, 56); A Clarke (J Hobson, 71), M Regan (S Linklater, 45), D Crompton (J Hobson, ht-71), R Winters, S Hohneck, M Salter (capt; G Llewellyn, 74), A To'oala (J El Abd, 51), A Blowers.

Referee: T Spreadbury (Somerset).

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