Leicester scrum simply too powerful
A penalty try a minute from time saw Leicester Tigers complete a brilliant fightback to beat Worcester Warriors 19-14 in their Premiership encounter on Friday.
With a minute left on the clock, the Tigers scrum won a second penalty try of the contest to turn around a game in which they had been trailing 0-14 just after the opening quarter.
The result means the Tigers to move top of the table - at least for the next 48 hours.
Trailing 0-14, Tigers grabbed a try through Scott Hamilton just before the half-time interval. Then their scrum proved too powerful and earned seven points midway through the second half and decisively right at the death.
With Worcester 14-12 to the good and just two minutes on the clock, Leicester embarked on a length-of-the-field move which led to the home side having to concede a five-metre scrum.
And the Leicester pack proved too powerful, earning their third try of the match to secure the four points.
Worcester, unbeaten since the opening day of the season at Sixways, made the stronger start and Leicester flank Tom Croft, making his first appearance since a long-term neck injury, was penalised after 12 minutes from not rolling away.
Straight in front of the post, former Leicester man Andy Goode made no mistake to hand Worcester the lead and things got even better for the hosts seven minutes later when they scored the first try of the game.
Impressive young flank Matt Kvesic made the initial break before Jon Clarke took the ball on, found the gap and then handed over to full-back Chris Pennell, who sent David Lemi diving over in the corner.
Goode missed the conversion but just five minutes later he was on target with another penalty after Martin Castrogiovanni was pinged for not releasing Aleki Lutui in the tackle.
Croft then conceded his second penalty of the match and again Goode was on target, handing the Warriors a 14-0 lead after half an hour with the Tigers shell-shocked.
In the closing stages of the first half, Leicester gave themselves a lifeline however when JP Doyle, after consulting the TMO, awarded Scott Hamilton a try after he was put into the corner by Mathew Tait, after Toby Flood had kicked a penalty to the corner.
To compound matters for Worcester, Goode was sent to the sin bin on the stroke of half-time for use of the knee in trying to stop Hamilton's score but Flood missed the conversion, handing the Warriors a nine-point lead at the break.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, it was Worcester who had the better of the early second half exchanges and they were awarded a penalty when Jonny Arr made a half-break and the Tigers were penalised for being offside.
Without Goode on the pitch however, the kicking duties fell to Pennell, who hit the upright and was then off target with another penalty just two minutes later, letting Leicester off the hook.
And the Tigers ground their way back into the match, winning a scrum near the Worcester try-line and bringing on powerhouse front rows Marcos Ayerza and Dan Cole for it.
A powerful push from the Tigers pack left referee Doyle with little option to award the penalty try, swiftly converted by Flood to take the scores to 14-12.
Try as they might however, Leicester struggled to move into the lead but they were awarded a penalty with seven minutes remaining, only for Flood to see his kick drop agonisingly short of the crossbar.
But with just a couple of minutes to go, Leicester broke down the field and Flood found Thomas Waldrom, whose kick forward failed to find Steve Mafi but his chase forced the covering Warriors defenders to take the ball over their own line and concede the decisive scrum.
Flood kicked the conversion and while there was just enough time for the restart, there was not enough time for Worcester to get back into the match and they were forced to settle for a losing bonus point.
For Worcester Warriors:
Pens: Goode 3
For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Hamilton, Penalty tries 2
Cons: Flood 2
Yellow cards: Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers, 21), Andy Goode (Worcester Warriors, 39)
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Jon Clarke, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 James Percival (captain), 3 Euan Murray, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Ceri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 John Andress, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Neil Best, 21 Ollie Frost, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Josh Matavesi.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Steve Mafi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ed Slater, 4 Louis Deacon (captain), 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Julian Salvi, 21 Micky Young, 22 Anthony Allen, 23 Niall Morris.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce, Peter Huckle.
TMO: Trevor Fisher