Yates dominates Henley but it could be pointless

Henley 0 Worcester 31
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The Independent Online

Worcester have made their intentions clear for a number of years about their desire to play in the top league, and a quick perusal of their summer signings confirmed there is to be no reduction in ambition or intensity this season. In fact, their shopping list must have resembled a who's who of British rugby.

Kingsley Jones followed his former coach at Gloucester, John Brain, up the M5 and alongside Jim Jenner, formerly of Newcastle, and Ben Clarke, completes a formid-able back row. Behind these are the once-capped Welsh scrum half Richard Smith, and Craig Chalmers, like Clarke a British Lion.

This was their third comfortable victory in succession, but their execution in the first half was poor. Admittedly Chalmers was missing through injury, and Tony Yapp, his replacement, was adequate rather than exciting, despite finishing with 21 points.

The second half was different altogether, however, as Worcester's superior fitness allowed them to break the game line consistently and the constant need to tackle from the very beginning left the Henley defence exhausted. Much of that is because of another of Worcester's signings in the centre. Chris Yates, again from Gloucester, is a man-mountain in the midfield and, frequently, it took more than one defender to stop him. Henley never shirked, just tired, and that is when Worcester started to turn their power and possession into points.

Not enough to score the fourth try that would have earned them a bonus point, however, a point that may prove crucial at the end of the season. Their disappointment was visible at the final whistle, nothing more than a full quota of points proving satisfactory against the lower clubs in the league, but their finishing will be improved next week in the crunch match against Rotherham with the return of Winston Stanley, a proven winger with Leicester Tigers last season.

Already the season looks like developing into a two-club battle for the solitary promotion spot and next week will test the wisdom and quality of the imports.

Henley: J Barnes; B Rowland, R Osman, I Tuivai (Stebbings, 53), T Holloway (Davies, 63); B Reeves, B Ayres (Smyle, 75); C Hannon (Fuller, 78), L Hall (capt; Harbinson , 50), D Brett, A Moxin, S Tyler (Pettermerides, 60), A Metcalfe, B Pegna (Street, 60), A Mortimore.

Worcester: B Hinshelwood; C Garrard, G Trueman, C Yates, C Wilks; T Yapp, R Smith; T Windo (Collins, 75), J Ross (Pellow, 73), N Lyman (Moreno, 63), D Sims, M Morgan, B Clarke, K Jones (capt), J Jenner (Evans, 63).

Referee: Stuart Terheege (England).