Aviva Premiership: Northampton beat Worcester to return to summit
Last Updated: 15/02/14 6:11pm
Captain Jonathan Thomas saw red as Worcester's winless run continued with a 30-14 defeat at Northampton, who reclaimed top spot in the Aviva Premiership table.
Thomas was sent off for punching Northampton number eight Sam Dickinson, who was one of three men to be yellow carded in a frantic encounter at Franklin's Gardens.
Wayne Barnes, refereeing a Saints game for the first time since the Premiership final last May, also sin-binned Leonardo Senatore and Sam Betty as the Warriors failed to keep their cool.
Northampton earned the win thanks to a penalty try and two efforts from GJ van Velze, who will join the Warriors next season, with Stephen Myler adding 15 points with the boot.
Worcester, who had been ahead early on, responded with a David Lemi try and nine points from full-back Chris Pennell. But the cards were to cost them a shot at claiming their first win in 14 attempts this season.
The Warriors had started brightly and were first on the board as a penalty at the scrum handed Pennell the chance to land his side's first points from in front of the posts.
But the full-back was unable to nail a much tougher kick from near halfway and Northampton's first venture into Warriors territory was rewarded with a Myler penalty.
Northampton were soon in front, though, as Myler made the most of Betty going over the top at a ruck to secure another three points.
The hosts were 9-3 up soon after as Alex Waller dominated in the scrum, winning a penalty and Myler made it three from three from the tee.
Worcester's discipline was starting to be called into question and they were reduced to 14 men 10 minutes before the break as Senatore was sin-binned for obstruction.
The Warriors' resilient first-half showing was capped by a Pennell penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Northampton were in determined mood at the beginning of the second half and upped the power levels, forcing Barnes to award a penalty try from a huge driving maul.
Myler made it 16-6 with the conversion, but while Worcester were down, they certainly were not out.
Lemi mounted an immediate response, latching on to a neat Alex Grove grubber kick to score and breathe new life into his side's bid.
But indiscipline was to catch up with Worcester again soon after as Thomas saw red for punching Dickinson, who was yellow carded for pulling back James Percival.
The Warriors were down to 13 men when Betty was punished for pulling down a maul.
Van Velze was the man to profit from a lineout drive, with Myler making it 23-11 with the conversion.
Pennell again issued a retort from the tee to cut the gap to nine points but Van Velze grabbed his second of the afternoon and Myler kicked to take Northampton up to 30 points.
Fri 27th Mar
Northampton52 - 30Wasps
Sat 28th Mar
Leicester Tigers25 - 18Exeter
London Irish22 - 21Newcastle Falcons
Saracens42 - 14Harlequins
Sun 29th Mar
Sale Sharks23 - 6Gloucester
London Welsh14 - 29Bath
Fri 10th Apr
Newcastle Falcons0 - 0Bath
Sat 11th Apr
Harlequins0 - 0Gloucester
Saracens0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Sun 12th Apr
Exeter0 - 0Northampton
London Welsh0 - 0Wasps
London Irish0 - 0Sale Sharks
Fri 24th Apr
Bath0 - 0London Irish
Sat 25th Apr
Sale Sharks0 - 0Harlequins
Gloucester0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers0 - 0London Welsh
Northampton0 - 0Saracens
Sun 26th Apr
Wasps0 - 0Exeter
Fri 8th May
Harlequins0 - 0Bath
Sat 9th May
Sale Sharks0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Gloucester0 - 0London Irish
Northampton0 - 0London Welsh
Wasps0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Sun 10th May
Saracens0 - 0Exeter
Sat 16th May
Bath0 - 0Gloucester
Exeter0 - 0Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers0 - 0Northampton
London Irish0 - 0Wasps
London Welsh0 - 0Saracens
Newcastle Falcons0 - 0Harlequins
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round 14
London Irish scrum-half Tomas O'Leary has been banned for three weeks following his red card against Wasps.
Leicester boss Richard Cockerill said his side "played poorly" as they scraped a home win over struggling Gloucester.
Leicester were forced to come from behind to snatch a hard-fought 11-8 Premiership win over Gloucester at Welford Road.
- Ford praises Bath youngsters
- Mallinder upbeat after win
- O'Leary faces 'stamp' ban
- Richards hurt by Quins loss
- Irish win upset by O'Leary red
- Ford runs hot in Bath win
- Harlequins edge out Newcastle
- McCall: Stars showed class
- Hodgson boot saves Saracens
- Leicester v Gloucester: Teams
- Wasps v Irish: Teams
- Exeter v Bath: Teams
- Northampton v Worcester: Teams
- Harlequins v Newcastle: Teams
- Sale v Saracens: Teams