Thu 28th May 15 :

Worcester snatch late victory to claim Championship title

 

No-one could have imagined a more sensational finish to this season's Greene King IPA Championship, and after the unlikeliest of comebacks Worcester Warriors fly half Ryan Lamb could scarcely believe his last-gasp conversion had hauled his side into the Premiership.

Chris Pennell was the hero in an astonishing rollercoaster ride at Sixways, an 80th minute try completing the turnaround for the Warriors after they went into the final five minutes 30-16 down.

Leading 29-28 from the first leg at Ashton Gate, Pennell had given Worcester a 16-6 lead at the interval, gratefully snatching up Lamb's grubber to score in the corner.

But the second-half was an entirely different story, with Bristol coming out all guns blazing and the explosive pace of David Lemi causing havoc on the wing.

Jack Lam, Jack Tovey and replacement Matthew Morgan all charged over in a devastating 11 minute spell for the visitors, to give them a 14-point advantage with just five minutes on the clock.

But with a packed out Sixways roaring them on, Worcester didn't give up, and following a penalty try and yellow cards for Lam and Dwayne Peel, Pennell scrambled through and touched down as close to the posts as he could to set up Lamb for the decisive conversion.

And despite the magnitude of the kick – edging Worcester 59-58 ahead on aggregate – Lamb insists he was not as wracked with nerves as the rest of Sixways.

"It was a very kickable kick so I should have got it really," he said. "But to do it in front of these fans who've stuck with this club through thick and thin, is absolutely fantastic and to get the kick right at the end there is a great feeling.

"To fight back from that deficit was incredible. The boys have been fantastic all year and I'm sure everyone thought we were down and out, but we were talking under the posts and our team spirit shone through.

"The finish was absolutely awesome and we never gave up, as the Premiership is where the club wants to be.

"We talked about wanting to get there but we never got too far ahead of ourselves and gave respect to the competition.

"There's some really tough teams in the Championship, and we had some tough times but come through it.

"Bristol pushed us both legs and this was an absolutely fantastic game of rugby – two top-class teams going at it, and it was a brilliant advert for the Championship."

It was an agonising defeat for Bristol, the pain telling on the face of Peel as he lay motionless on the turf at the final whistle.

And while the former Wales international and British and Irish Lion admits the blow will be hard to come back from, he was quick to thank the legions of supporters who had made the journey up to Sixways.

He said: "Second-half last week and second-half here I thought we were really good, and that's a testament to our players and our fitness levels.

"We've been working hard at that side of things all season, and to be honest I thought we'd done it with five minutes to go.

"But that's rugby. We'll regroup I suppose but you can't really say too much to cheer the guys up at the moment as they are bitterly disappointed.

"Some of the lads are moving on, and a lot of the boys are proper Bristolians who have grown up in the city and were desperate to get the team into the Premiership.

"This team deserves to be up there, from what we've seen this week and last. There is a fantastic infrastructure, a fantastic stadium, and the supporters are unbelievable as well.

"We had probably 50 per cent of the support up here today which is testament to everyone, and we're gutted not to do it for them."