Northampton Wanderers nearly pulled off a second-half comeback at Sixways as they faced Worcester Cavaliers in the Premiership Rugby Shield but a late score for the home side sealed the win for Worcester.
Tries from Matt Worley, James Craig and Ken Pisi put Wanderers ahead at the turn around, but clinical attacking and a late Scott van Breda penalty kept the lead to just two at half time.
Two Cavaliers scores put Wandies ten point adrift at the hour mark and though Northampton sent Darren Dawidiuk over to get within a score, a yellow card for skipper James Grayson allowed Worcester to work the overlap and score another to seal the win.
It was a tough start to proceedings for Wandies as the home side pressed forwards well; Worcester working their way into the Northampton 22 quickly before a gap opened up for Mason Tonks to sneak through.
Scott van Breda’s conversion made it whole score but Wanderers hit straight back. A fumbled lineout earned the away side possession and a perfectly-placed crossfield kick from Grayson sat up for Tom Emery and with Worley on his shoulder, the winger raced in the final yards to score under the posts.
Clinical in attack, the home team did not let up; working their way to the five-metre line, it was brute force from Van Breda that saw him over for Cavaliers’ second, before the fullback added the extras himself.
Wanderers were next to strike, with an attacking lineout on the Cavaliers’ five-metre line the starting point. The forwards mauled the ball close to the line before Craig popped out of the side to score.
A second Grayson conversion levelled things and Wanderers were soon a man up as Andrew Kitchener was sent to the sin bin for bringing Alex Coles down illegally as the Northampton back rower charged towards the line.
Another yellow card came for the home side as the scrum penalties built up against Cavaliers, Farai Mudariki heading to the bin that time. And Wandies made the most of their extra two men, shipping the ball wide to an awaiting Ken Pisi on the wing.
Cavaliers hit back with a penalty just before the break and it was the home side first on the scoresheet after the restart. The Worcester captain Will Butler scrambled close before getting the offload away to Wynand Olivier for the score under the posts.
The home side stayed resolute in attack and flowed forwards to see Louis Brown over in the corner on the hour mark. And the game was back within a score with ten minutes left on the clock as Darren Dawidiuk rode a maul to the line and Grayson added the extras.
But Wandies went down to 14 for the final minutes of the game as Grayson was penalised for a high tackle and the home side were quick to make the most of their extra man, sending Luke Veebel over in the corner to seal the victory.