Worcester 36 Montpellier 26: Ruddock sees his chance to chase a place at Europe's top table

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The Independent Online

Patience has been the watchword at Sixways since Mike Ruddock, the former Wales coach, took charge in the summer.

Worcester made a shaky start to the Premiership, going 10 matches without a win. They have turned things around, with three wins in four games. In the European Challenge Cup, a seventh straight victory on Saturday helped the club chase a place in next season's Heineken Cup, earning a home semi-final against Newcastle.

"We have been talking about the big prize," Ruddock said, "and we will be trying to do our best to get there." He was determined, though, that his men should not get carried away. "What was frustrating [today] was that we let in so many tries. That is disappointing."

Worcester scored five tries of their own. "There has been a tradition of being able to catch and drive and be a very powerful set-piece team," said Ruddock. "Today there was evidence of additions to our game. We have some quality behind the scrum and it showed when we got the ball wide. It means we will be a more difficult side to defend against."

The lock Craig Gillies popped up on the wing to be put over for try No 5 at the end of the first half. That score, the All Black wing Rico Gear's double and the whole first half left Ruddock a very happy man.

The second half was not so good. Ruddock said: "We have to look again at our defence and analyse how we gave them opportunities to stay in the game and score four tries." Two came after the interval, when Worcester could only muster a Shane Drahm penalty. They lost Pat Sanderson to the sin-bin for a technical infringement about which they had been warned.

Worcester: Tries Benjamin, Tuitupou, Gear 2, Gillies; Conversions Drahm 4; Penalty Drahm. Montpellier: Tries Ouedraogo, Stoica, Rofes, Britz; Conversions Todeschini, Lespinas 2.

Worcester: T Delport; R Gear, D Rasmussen, S Tuitupou, M Benjamin; S Drahm (J Carlisle, 80), M Powell (J Arr, 80); A Windo (M Mullan, 57), A Lutui, T Taumoepeau (S Ruwers, 80), G Rawlinson (W Bowley, 63), C Gillies (Bowley, 8-18), A Hickey, P Sanderson (capt), K Horstmann.

Montpellier: R Lespinas; O Sarraméa, M Taele, A Stoica, S Kuzbik; F Todeschini (J Tomas, 28), S Buada (A Tomas, 80); S Petit (D Vaudaine, 52), F Rofes (O Diomandé, 69), P Toleafoa (D Thiart, 49), M Bert (G Uva, 63), M Macurdy, F Ouedraogo (capt), S Galtier, V Uva (W Britz, 52).

Referee: G Clancy (Ireland).

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