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Page last updated at 20:42 GMT, Friday, 30 September 2011 21:42 UK

Worcester Warriors 12-3 Northampton Saints

Worcester (6) 12
Penalties: Goode 4
Northampton (3) 3
Penalties: Myler

Andy Goode
Andy Goode has kicked all Warriors' points in their last two matches

Andy Goode kicked four penalties to boot Worcester Warriors to a hard-earned win over Northampton at Sixways.

Worcester let slip a 15-3 lead with 20 minutes left to lose at home to leaders Harlequins last Saturday.

But they did not make the same mistakes this time, Goode kicking four of his six attempts at goal.

Stephen Myler briefly levelled with a first-half penalty of his own, but Saints fell short as they suffered only their second ever defeat at Sixways.

Worcester, who had won on the opening day of the season, ended a run of three straight Premiership defeats as they extended Northampton's winless sequence to four games in a scrappy contest.

While Saints are still without several key players on World Cup duty, this was an ineffective display, not helped by having Brian Mujati sin-binned in the second half.

But Worcester coach Richard Hill had spoken of his side's need to match Northampton in the close exchanges, and his pack did him proud as they put major pressure on Saints strong set-piece and carrying game, with the back-row of Neil Best, Jake Abbott and Chris Jones, filling in at number eight, particularly prominent.

Northampton put themselves under pressure from the off when wing Paul Diggin and full-back Greig Tonks failed to agree on who was going to claim a towering up and under from Errie Claassens.

But Saints' poor start continued as they conceded a soft penalty, Goode missing from out on the right before making amends in the ninth minute from the opposite side.

Myler levelled matters but two good runs from home full-back Claassens proved the prelude to Goode knocking over a monster penalty from just inside his own half to re-establish the lead on the half-hour, after Mujati was penalised for slipping his bind at a scrum.

Saints hit back with their best attack of the half as strong running from Jon Clarke freed Diggin, but the wing was expertly pulled down by Claassens and the chance was lost.

The second half started with another Goode penalty, although the former England fly-half also missed a presentable chance to add another three points as Northampton infringed again.

The steady stream of penalties continued with referee David Rose warning captain Phil Dowson, but it went unheeded as Mujati was sin-binned seconds later after illegally halting a close-range Worcester attack.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Saints went closest to grabbing a try when wing Scott Armstong slipped through the home defence, but Worcester's determined rearguard action kept them out.

Goode missed a snap drop-goal attempt just past the hour-mark but his fourth successful penalty was enough to seal victory, Saints replacement Ryan Lamb missing both with a penalty and drop goal effort late on as Northampton failed to pick up a losing bonus point.

VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Worcester coach Richard Hill:

"I am happier than I was at this time last week. We were much more precise, we had the same energy, physicality and effort going in as last week but the difference was we were more accurate.

"We have to learn to finish off our chances as you don't get many in the Premiership. There were probably three good scoring chances we failed to convert which would have killed the game off, but last week we were 15-3 up against Quins and couldn't close the game out, this week we were 12-3 up against Saints and we held on.

"It was a calculated gamble with Chris Jones at number eight as he has not played there for a while. But he carried the ball well and enjoyed himself. A second row doesn't get the chance to do that, and he was all over the field."

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder:

"The performance was a lot better than it has been. We did some good things and created some good opportunities and we are disappointed to come away with nothing.

"The beginning of the second half was crucial as they had a good 10-15 minute period and put us under pressure with a couple of good drives.

"To lose Brian Mujati to the sin bin was disappointing and they took the penalties off that. It was a close game with the odd bounce of the ball and the odd refereeing decision making the difference."

LINE-UPS

Worcester: Claassens; Garvey, Grove, Rasmussen (capt), Benjamin; Goode, Perry; Mullan, Shervington, Taumoepeau; Percival, Gillies; Best, Abbott, Chris Jones.

Replacements: Ceri Jones, Fortey, Tomaszczyk, Balding, Kvesic, Frost, Carlisle, Arscott.

Northampton: Tonks; Diggin, Clarke, Downey, Armstrong; Myler, Dickson; Doran-Jones, Sharman, Mujati; Manoa, Day; Clark, Nutley, Dowson (capt).

Replacements: Haywood, Waller, Mercey, Sorensen, Craig, Roberts, Lamb, May.

Attendance: 9,248.

Referee: David Rose (RFU).



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see also
Worcester 15-17 Harlequins
24 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union
Sale 29-21 Northampton
23 Sep 11 |  English
Rugby Union commentaries
14 Feb 13 |  Rugby Union


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