Worcester Warriors grabbed a last-minute try to snatch victory away from Leicester Tigers at Sixways on Sunday afternoon.
Tigers led 13-10 with the clock touching 79 minutes when wing Tom Howe dived over in the corner and fly-half Duncan Weir added the conversion to make it 17-13 in his side's favour with the concluding action of the afternoon in Round 14 of the Gallagher Premiership season.
Jonah Holmes turned desperate defence into opportunist attack with an interception score for Tigers in the first half and they were still 10-3 in front at half-time despite having further ‘scores’ from Jordan Olowofela and then Ben White disallowed after consultation with the television match official.
Warriors levelled matters early in a disappointing second period before Tom Hardwick put Tigers ahead again at 13-10 with a penalty on 65 minutes, but it was Warriors who managed to wrestle one final opportunity and leave their rivals in ninth place with just one consolation point from the day.
The Tigers line-up included Dan Cole and Holmes after their release from international duty and head coach Geordan Murphy welcomed back Tatafu Polota-Nau, Will Spencer, Guy Thompson and Harry Simmons after injury.
With Greg Bateman and Ellis Genge unavailable, Facundo Gigena started alongside Cole and Tom Youngs in the front row and there was a new look to the back row where Mike Fitzgerald and Mike Williams combined at flanker as Brendon O’Connor was ruled out.
Warriors were missing Josh Adams, scorer of the decisive try in the Welsh victory over England, and welcomed back Ted Hill to replace skipper GJ van Velze, who suffered an arm injury last week.
In the afternoon’s 1.00pm kick-off in unseasonal bright sunshine, Warriors had an early opportunity with an attack from a tap penalty on halfway before a pass from Fancois Venter carried forward on the right.
Gigena enjoyed early success with a scrum penalty on halfway and a second soon followed as Toomua booted it into the corner where most of the Tigers supporters were congregated. But possession was lost after a couple of phases 20 metres out.
Warriors were attacking every breakdown with numbers and gaining some reward as a counter-ruck produced turnover ball near their own line before a high tackle on Toomua allowed the Tigers fly-half to provide the opening points of the afternoon on 15 minutes with a penalty from 30 metres.
George Worth had to look sharp as Warriors continued to kick in behind the Tigers defence and Ben White also provided he had enough in defence as he won a chase to a kick rrom Chris Pennell inside his own 22.
Tigers had a try disallowed when Kyle Eastmond put Gareth Owen through on a 20-metre break in a central position and Olowofela arrived in support to dot down. The TMO, though, brought the referee’s attention to the Eastmond pass and it was given as forward with play returning for a Warriors scrum.
A stunning hit from Cole on Ethan Waller, and a rip from the England prop to take back possession, slammed the door shut on another Worcester attack just as they were building numbers to the left to protect a precious three-point lead.
Duncan Weir levelled the scores on 25 minutes after Eastmond was penalised over the ball and Tigers found themselves under massive pressure moments later, tackling on their own line, before Holmes picked off a no-look pass from Weir to run 95 metres for an interception score with Venter just behind him all the way.
Toomua’s conversion gave Tigers a 10-3 lead as play entered the last 10 minutes of the half.
The lead remained intact as Weir twice put kickable penalties wide before Tigers were denied by the match officials for a second time.
After a lineout on the left, scrum-half White made a break, rode one tackle and got back to his feet to bounce over the line. But after a lengthy check of the replays, referee Craig Maxwell-Keys penalised Owen at the breakdown instead of allowing the score.
Warriors had one more chance to cut the deficit as they attacked with penalty advantage just before half-time but spilled possession just as the referee signalled advantage over and Tigers headed back to the dressing rooms with a seven-point lead.
Hardwick replaced Toomua for the start of the second half and he kicked off with Tigers facing into the sun as they looked for a sixth win of the league season.
An early lineout drove took play 20 metres up towards the tryline but ended by being steered into touch and the missed chance proved costly as Worcester claimed the next score.
Francois Venter's break took them within reach of the line and scrum-half Francois Hougaard stretched over from a ruck to dot down. The referee needed to check before awarding the score and Weir’s conversion levelled the scores at 10-10.
A succession of lineouts and box-kicks punctuated the second period, with both sides waiting for their rivals to blink with the result in the balance.
Polota-Nau and Spencer made their return from injury just short of the hour mark and Thompson followed them into the action as Warriors enjoyed a spell of possession without finding a decisive break.
Spencer’s first touch of the ball made some valuable metres in Warriors territory and, when the whistle blew for offside, Hardwick put over the kick to give Tigers the lead again with 13 minutes remaining.
Two missed lineouts denied valuable possession and Cole led the defensive effort from a dangerous Warriors lineout but missed touch from a penalty gave them another opportunity, especially as the referee blew in Worcester’s on halfway and Weir hammered his kick to the right corner.
A timely tackle from Hardwick, though, and the intervention from Polota-Nau reclaimed possession and Tigers cleared.
But Warriors returned and eventually created enough space on the right flank for wing Howe to dive over to win the game with the clock entering its final minute. Weir added a touchline kick to make it 17-13 in the final action of the afternoon.
Thank you to all the Tigers fans who joined us at Sixways this afternoon, and for those who have followed along at home.
We'll see you back at Welford Road next Saturday as we host Wasps.
Worcester 17-13 Tigers
Weir lines up the kick, and runs the clock down to convert in the last action of the game.
Worcester bring the ball into the Tigers 22, and once the away side are pinged on the floor, Warriors make the most of their advantage and pull the ball across to the right hand side, where Tom Howe gets the ball down.
Tigers compete well at the line out, but Worcester come away with the ball and try and ship it to their outside backs. Cole tries to collect on halfway but knocks on and Warriors have the scrum.
Delicious Defensive Display
Worcester claim their line out, but Tigers' maul defence is on point once again. Polota-Nau emerges with ball after a turnover, and the ball gets hacked up towards the halfway line.
The Worcester tight head gets too long in the leg, and Maxwell-Keys awards the penalty to Tigers.
Hardwick misses touch with the kick though, and after Tigers were pinged for holding on on half way, Warriors have a line out 10 metres from the Tigers try line.
Ted Hill claims the ball, but Tigers compete well against the home side's rolling maul and turnover the ball. Scrum down.
Worcester Kick To Touch
Tigers are penalised at the scrum, and Weir nudges the ball deep into Leicester territory. Time for another line out...
Francois Hougaard and Ryan Mills are off, to be replaced by Michael Heaney and Ollie Lawrence.
More Worcester Pressure
Tigers holding strong once more, as Worcester push on from their scrum. Heem and Pennell aren't on the same wave length, though, and the ball is spilled close to the touchline.
Maxwell-Keys goes to his assistant, who calls for a Worcester scrum after Holmes is adjudged to have touched the ball.
Ball Not Straight
Tigers take the line out, but Maxwell-Keys calls the ball not straight and Worcester opt for the scrum.
No Arms Tackle
Tigers grab the restart, but a no arms tackle from Ted Hill sees the penalty awarded and they kick to touch almost on half way.
Hardwick strikes it well and splits the posts, taking the score to 10-13 in Tigers' favour.
Ryan Mills knocks on for Worcester in midfield, and Hardwick does really well to get boot to ball and get it back into the Warriors 22.
After a few phases inside the Worcester half, they are penalised and Hardwick lines up his first attempt from the tee this afternoon.
Guy Thompson returns from injury to replace Mike Williams in the back row.
Tigers are holding strong in the face of some strong Worcester possession, here. The home side are trying to pull the defensive line from left to right, but Tigers aren't having any of it.
Hardwick calls the mark from another high ball, and does well to make metres from the kick into touch.
Worcester enjoy a spell of possession on the fringes of the Tigers 22, but a cheeky stab through from Hougaard is claimed by the away side.
Warriors get the ball back after a knock on, but Jonah Holmes' phenomenal work on this near touchline sees him claim the ball into touch to relieve some pressure.
Campese Ma'afu, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Will Spencer are all on, replacing Facundo Gigena, Tom Youngs and Harry Wells.
Sending the ball into the air is certainly flavour of the day in this second half, and Bryce Heem does well to pick out another Ben White box kick. Weir makes a decent touch finder and we've got another line out on the far side.
Anton Bresler is replaced by Pierce Phillips.
Tigers Reclaim Possession
Warriors just about take their ball at the line out after some messy work, and after the ball is spilled Tigers are back in possession again.
White sends another high ball into the sky, and Hougaard starts to slow things down with a kick of his own. Kalamafoni takes it.
Tigers Line Out
Turns out it was a Tigers ball (knew it) and the forwards take it easily. White boots down field again, but Fitzgerald is adjudged to have tackled a man in front of the ball and Worcester have a free ball. Weir kicks to touch for a line out just beyond the 10 metre line.
Ethan Waller and Nick Schonert are replaced by Callum Black and Gareth Milasinovich.
Fitzgerald takes the ball at the line out, and White box kicks the ball back down field. Bryce Heem goes down as he tries to catch it, and the ball is spilled into touch. The TMO is checking whose ball it is...
Tigers Rip The Ball
Worcester push on from the scrum, but Tigers rip the ball and make ground back into the Warriors half.
The ball is spilled for Warriors to claim, however, and as Tigers try and turnover the ball once more it's knocked on. We scrum down again and Worcester kick the ball to touch in the Tigers 22.
To and Fro
Ben White has done really well to take back control of the pace of this game, and produces a high kick for Jonah Holmes to pluck out of the air.
Tigers lose the ball o the far side, though, and Worcester are now back to their phase work, before a Leicester knock on gives the home side our first scrum of the second half.
Duncan Weir adds the extras, putting the score at 10-10.
Slight confusion here as the big screen flickers, but after a couple of replays from the TMO, the try is awarded to Francois Hougaard.
Quick Worcester Hands
Worcester take the ball from the line out, and ship the ball across field in a slick training-ground move. They push up to Tigers' try line, and think they've got the ball down, but we're back to the TMO...
Worcester Kick Down Field
But Worcester kick back into the Tigers half, and Leicester are defending once more. A good, contestable kick from Hardwick goes up for Olowofela to take, but after a bounce of the ball Worcester get the ball and Tigers are pinged for a high tackle. Weir kicks to touch just outside the Tigers 22.
Second Half Underway
Worcester claim the restart and kick the ball to touch for a line out just inside the Tigers half, before Leicester take the ball and boot down field for another line out, this time inside the Worcester 22.
One change for Tigers at half time, as Tom Hardwick is on for Matt Toomua.
Second Half Underway
Both teams are back out in the sunshine here at Sixways, and Tom Hardwick gets us underway for the second half.
Worcester 3-10 Tigers
Frantic play from the next line out, with Worcester making a lot of ground after a really nice cross field kick tests out Jordan Olowofela on the left hand side. The ball is shipped back to the far side after quick hands from the Worcester forwards, but get penalised for going straight off their feet at the breakdown.
Toomua kicks it off the pitch to end the first half.
Tigers Line Tested
Weir makes decent ground with his free kick, and the line out is taken well by Michael Fatialofa. Worcester press on towards the five metre line, but Tigers' line holds strong once more.
TMO Brings Tigers Back
Kalamafoni takes the ball at the back of the line out, and ships the ball onto White. The scrum-half darts around the breakdown and thinks he's scored, but TMO David Rose has noticed a pull-back from a Tigers player and the score will not stand.
Tigers Into The 22
Worcester claim the ball at the restart once more, but a turnover from Mike Williams sees Tigers with the ball in the Warriors half. Toomua goes for territory, and there's a Leicester line out inside the home 22.
Scuffle At The Ruck
Worcester claim the restart once more, but a scuffle at the ruck breaks out into a bit of handbags over the far side. Maxwell-Keys awards the penalty to the home side, and after Tigers are marched back 10 metres, Weir points for the posts again. He's wide again, so the score remains at 3-10.
Weir Misses Penalty Chance
Worcester claim the restart, but Tigers get pinged for holding on at the ruck. Weir lines up the kick at goal, but the ball slides wide and we remain at 3-10 to Leicester.
Matt Toomua does well from the tee, and adds the extras.
The home side were really threatening Tigers lines, then - but as the ball gets shipped out to Heem, Jonah Holmes is there and nabs the ball for a 90m runaway score. No-one will catch him and he scores the first try of the match!
Warriors once again use the ball quickly from their scrum, and the ball is kicked high for big wing Bryce Heem. He claims the ball, but there's no space for him on this side - the ball gets worked over to the left beofre going dead for another line out.
More Big Hits
Tigers clear the ball down the pitch from the restart, and there are more big hits flying in. Tom Youngs leads from the front and puts in a massive hit - to an audible gasp from the crowd.
Leicester take the opportunity to kick the ball over Worcester heads, but an unlucky bounce sees the ball bobble over the dead ball line and we're pulled back for a scrum.
Weir makes no mistake from the tee, and gets his team on the scoreboard to make it 3-3.
Worcester Push On
We scrum down once more, and Worcester use their ball quickly, with Ryan Mills darting down the middle of the pitch. Eastmond gets pinged for holding on, and this time Duncan Weir fancies a kick at goal.
Worcester have really turned up the physicality over the last couple of minutes, but Tigers are matching them every step of the way. Some massive tackles flying in, not least from Jordan Olowofela near our commentary position.
Great Work From Cole
Worcester enjoy their best passage of play, pushing into the 22 through Tom Howe on this nearside. He's brought down five metres out, and Dan Cole does a phenomenal job of stripping the ball before Toomua kicks to touch and relieves pressure once more.
A brilliant passage of play from Tigers sees Eastmond break the line. Olowofela puts the ball down over the try line, but TMO David Rose brings us back for a forward pass in midfield.
Worcester claim their line out, but the Tigers line is holding strong. Warriors put the ball to air once again, and Ben White grabs it once more before he is taken high.
White Tracks Back
After a physical opening 15 minutes, the two teams try a bit of kick tennis, before a tasty stab through on the nearside breaks Tigers lines.
Ben White is there, though, and does well to chase back and claim the ball before Leicester lines are cleared.
Toomua makes no mistake, strikes the ball well and it's 0-3 to Tigers here at Sixways.
After claiming the line out, Tigers take the ball forward through their heavy runners. Kalamafoni is tackled off the ball, and Toomua points to the posts for the first kick of the match.
Neat Work From Tigers
Slick work from Tigers, with Fitzgerald taking the ball at the next line out. The ball gets to Toomua, who dabs a cross field kick across to Olowofela, who gets tackled just metres from the line, before Worcester clear their lines for another throw.
Tigers do well to ship the ball left from the line out on the far side, but some nifty work from Warriors on the floor sees the ball turned over.
Worcester Knock On
Worcester take the line out, but as one of their forwards runs through to take the ball in a rehearsed move, he knocks it on and we scrum down again.
Maxwell-Keys penalises Warriors once more, and this time Toomua makes no mistake with his kick to touch inside the 22.
Scrum down...again. But Nick Schonert gets pinged at the scrum and Tigers can kick the ball down field through Matt Toomua.
He misses touch, and we're back on halfway for a Worcester lineout.
Sione Kalamafoni digs the ball out of the scrum, and Tigers do well to keep the ball and relieve pressure with a kick down field.
Worcester knock the ball on and we're back to another scrum...
Worcester push on into the Tigers' 22, but a forward pass sees referee Craig Maxwell-Keys bring us back for the first scrum of the match.
Touchline To Touchline
After absorbing some early Worcester pressure, Tigers head up the field before giving away a penalty just beyond halfway.
Duncan Weir gets us underway in Tigers' Premiership Round 14 clash at Worcester.
Tigers captain Tom Youngs leads Leicester out into perfect conditions here at Sixways this afternoon. Kick off is just moments away...
Williams Previews Worcester
LTTV caught up with Mike Williams this week to preview this afternoon's opposition. Watch the full interview here.
Welcome to Sixways
Welcome to Sixways, where we're live for Tigers' Gallagher Premiership clash with Worcester Warriors.
While we arrived in thick fog, the teams are now completing their final warm-ups in glorious sunshine...