Worcester Warriors have been promoted to the Aviva Premiership after they beat Cornish Pirates 46-32 on aggregate after a two match finals series.
Worcester coach Richard Hill saluted his Warriors after they won promotion by lifting the RFU Championship at Sixways tonight after beating Cornish Pirates 25-20 in the second leg.
Tries from Miles Benjamin, Marcel Garvey and Andy Goode, who also kicked 10 points, gave Worcester victory over the two legs and a return to the Aviva Premiership.
Hill said: "Overall we were the best team in the league. It's not an easy league – and it's getting stronger each year. It was a great atmosphere tonight, the stadium was vibrating at times, and we will go into next season on a high."
Pirates captain Gavin Cattle, whose side came back from 25-13 down with two late tries, added: "In the last half hour we showed what we are about, some endeavour and creative play and it was disappointing that we didn't set our stall out early. It's been a long season and we are a relatively small squad but we are close knit and I am very happy with the way we responded."
Eventhough the Pirates could not be promoted because the Mennaye Field does not fulfil the Minimum Standards Criteria for the Premiership they gave it a good crack.
They got on the scoresheet after just 86 seconds when Rob Cook kicked a penalty but Goode cancelled that out minutes later to re-instate their nine-point lead from the first leg..
And things got better for the Worcester after 12 minutes when Jonny Arr put Garvey away in the corner and the winger ducked out of clutching hands to score.
Goode converted and then landed a drop goal – with the aid of the video referee Steve Leyshon – before Garvey came to Worcester's rescue. He recovered from being stood up by Jonny Bentley and raced back to haul down the fly-half short of the line.
The Pirates did get some reward for their efforts when Rasmussen was penalised for killing the ball and Cook landed a second penalty to reduce the deficit to 16 points (34-18 on aggregate) at half time.
But then came an early second half blitz, with tries from Benjamin and Goode in three miniutes, before Drew Locke crossed and Cook converted to give the Pirates hope.
That glimmer increased when referee JP Doyle awarded them a penalty try after Warriors collapsed the scrum but it was too late to halt the Warriors celebrations.
Final Score Worcester Warriors 25 Cornish Pirates 20
Tries : Garvey, Benjamin, Goode
Cons: Goode (2)
Yellow card: Best 72
Tries: Locke, Pen try
Pens: Cook (2)
Cons: Cook (2).
Referee: J P Doyle (RFU)
C Pennell (capt); M Garvey (O Frost 77), A Grove (A Crockett 70), D Rasmussen, M Benjamin; A Goode (J Carlisle 70), J Arr; A Black, C Fortey (A Lutui 34), T Taumoepeau (B Douglas 78), G Rawlinson (G Kitchener 70), C Gillies, N Best, J Abbott, K Horstmann. Rep (not used): A Balding.
R Cook; N Jackson, M Hopper, D Locke, R McAtee (T Luke 40); J Bentley, G Cattle (capt J Doherty 62); R Storer (P Andrew 56), R Elloway (D Ward 56), C Rimmer (A Paver 62), L McGlone (I Nimmo 45), M Myerscough, C Morgan, P Burgess (S Betty 49), K Marriott.