Aviva Premiership: James O'Connor stars in London Irish's 22-9 defeat of Worcester
Last Updated: 04/01/14 5:38pm
James O'Connor scored all of London Irish's points as they defeated Worcester 22-9 to win the battle of the bottom two sides in the Aviva Premiership at the Madejski Stadium.
Australian ace O'Connor contributed a try, a conversion and five penalties as Irish produced a strong second-half performance to claim the win and put a 14-point gap between themselves and the rock-bottom Warriors, whose hopes of avoiding relegation now look all but over.
Worcester were firmly in contention at 6-6 at the interval but they were swept aside after the break to crash to a 12th successive defeat this season, with their points coming from three Chris Pennell penalties.
Irish enjoyed much the better of the opening 10 minutes but were unable to translate that into points with O'Connor missing an early penalty attempt.
However, with basic errors from the Warriors preventing them from getting out of their own half, the hosts were able to build up considerable pressure and they were rewarded when O'Connor put them ahead with an 11th-minute penalty.
Worcester hit back soon after though and, after a couple of line-out drives put Irish on the back foot and led to a Worcester penalty, Pennell successfully bisected the posts to make it 3-3.
O'Connor then missed another kick and, against the run of play, Pennell kicked his second penalty to put Worcester ahead.
Level at the break
Their lead lasted just six minutes before O'Connor drew the teams level just before half-time, and Worcester would never be in front again.
A loss of possession by Ravai Fatiaki and an excellent kick from Tomas O'Leary gave Irish early impetus at the start of the second half and they took a 9-6 lead when O'Connor drilled over his third penalty of the match.
The Exiles pack then became the dominant force with the visitors' eight conceding another penalty, which allowed O'Connor to kick his fourth goal and increase the gap between the teams.
With half an hour remaining, Worcester brought on Jonny Arr at scrum-half in place of the disappointing Jeremy Su'a in an attempt to provide more pace to their game.
Pennell was narrowly short with a long-range penalty before Irish produced another formidable line-out drive. The Warriors dragged it down and, in a double blow for the visitors, Leonardo Senatore was yellow-carded before O'Connor slotted over his fifth penalty.
With 20 minutes remaining, the game was up for Worcester with O'Connor's score putting the game beyond them. Irish had battered the visitors' defence which gave O'Connor the space to race outside Josh Drauniniu for the only try of the match, which the full-back also converted.
Pennell kicked his third penalty as Worcester saved their best period of pressure for the last 10 minutes but, even when Irish replacement prop Jamie Hagan saw yellow for repeated scrummage offences, the Warriors could not get any closer as they slumped to yet another loss.