Irish hold on to beat Warriors
By Lee Walker. Last Updated: 08/04/06 4:42pm
London Irish cemented their play-off ambitions by moving into third place following a hard-fought 12-10 victory over Worcester.
First-half tries from Kieran Roche and Shane Geraghty proved decisive for the visitors in a stop-start game at a blustery Sixways.
Thinus Delport had given the Warriors the lead for much of the opening period with his fourth try of the season but he was sent-off after 55 minutes following a second yellow card.
Irish took the lead after just two minutes when Riki Flutey founds acres of space and with two men on the outside picked out lock Roche who rumbled over from 10 metres untouched.
The gusty wind saw the New Zealand fly-half miss the conversion and a subsequent penalty and that proved costly as the hosts took the lead after ten minutes.
South African full-back Delport celebrated the signing of a contract extension earlier this week by powering over the line despite the presence of two Irish defenders and Shane Drahm added the extras against the wind.
Worcester held that lead until just three minutes before half-time despite Delport being sin-binned for tackling opposite number Delon Armitage without the ball.
But the hosts, who had lost hooker Andre van Niekerk to a nasty neck injury as well as prop Tony Windo midway through the opening stanza, finally succumbed to away pressure.
Gerraghty, who spurned a glorious overlap moments early with a forward pass, made no mistake when he took the ball at pace from eight metres out and Flutie's first successful kick gave the visitors a five-point lead at the break.
The second-half degenerated into an ill-tempered affair with uncontested scrums for much of the period after Tevita Taumoepeau became the third Worcester front row to leave the field with an injury.
And both sides were reduced to 14 men with 25 minutes remaining after a melee prompted by Armitage's punch on Delport. The Irish number 15 escaped censure but the Springbok was dismissed for retaliation and Flutie was also sin-binned for his part in the scrap.
Referee Wayne Barnes looked in danger of losing control of the game in the closing stages and Drahm reduced the arrears to two points with a penalty on 62.
But the Warriors' Aussie fly-half missed a potentially game-winning penalty with two minutes left when his kick drifted past the left-post and London Irish held on in a desperate finish.