2 penalty tries in the second half saw Tigers overcome a lively Worcester side 19-14 to go top of the league for the first time in over a year. Remarkably we weren’t top at any stage during 2012. The final penalty try was the more controversial of the two; Ben Youngs took two attempts to put the ball into the scrum and it’s hard to see what Worcester offence actually stopped Waldrom grounding the ball; unlike a usual penalty try we had shoved them well past the try line.
Worcester had started very well. With former Rotherham man Semisi Taulava to the fore they bullied the Tigers in open play and physically were out matching their counterparts. Their try was well deserved and well worked as Jon Clarke danced through Tom Croft and Ed Slater’s tackles to put Chris Pennell through the hole; he drew in the last man to put David Lemi away in the corner.
Goode missed the conversion but slotted 3 more penalties to give Worcester a 14-0 lead. Flood had turned down one chance to kick at goal and missed the second short; a third easier penalty was again kicked to the corner. After an attempt at the maul and a quick drive from Rob Hawkins the ball was spread wide. Dan Bowden threw a terrific pass under huge pressure to free Matt Tait down the 5 metre channel, his pace took him outside David Lemi and a dummy left Chris Pennell in no man’s land allowing Scott Hamilton in at the corner.
Goode’s despairing knee drop was picked up by JP Doyle and the Tigers legend was yellow carded. Unfortunately Flood was short with the conversion and again from the penalty on half way.
The second half was all about the Tigers pack. Just before the first penalty try we could have got one from the maul, Worcester were marched backwards ten yards before pulling it down within a yard of the line. Then the heavy duty replacements of Cole and Ayerza came on and marmalised Worcester’s front row. The penalty try was from the first scrum.
With only 2 minutes left to play the Tigers were in danger of being stuck in the Worcester mud. The home side was attacking inside the 22 and only needed to keep the ball to win. A great piece of counter rucking from Thomas Waldrom and Matt Smith won the turnover; classy passing from Slater and Allen put Tait in space who made the break. Flood was involved several times linking the play and threw a lovely long pass to Waldrom around the Worcester 22. He elected the chip ahead for Mafi but it wasn’t his best. Pennell recovered it but was helpless when the onrushing Mafi gathered him in his arms and drove him back over his own line.
Once again it only needed one scrum and JP Doyle was awarding the penalty try, this time for Jon Andress boring in so much he ended up facing his own line. There was still time for the kick off but Dan Cole safely ran it into touch to send the Tigers back to the top of the table.