Worcester surprise Northampton Saints in season opener

Tom Heathcote celebrates a drop goal for Worcester

Worcester Warriors announced their return to the Aviva Premiership by beating former champions Northampton Saints 13-12 at Sixways Stadium.

Worcester scored the only try of the match when captain GJ van Velze crossed the tryline and Tom Heathcote converted but the result came down to a late drop goal from Heathcote.

Northampton Saints had to rely on Stephen Myler’s boot for all their points.

In the first-half the home side gave a very good account of themselves leading 10-6 at the break against what was a far stronger Northampton side on paper.

Using their strength out wide to stretch the Saints defence, Worcester’s desire showed through on their return to the Premiership, getting stuck into Northampton by putting in some big tackles and turning over the ball regularly.

Heathcote’s creativity in the first-half was a particular highlight.

Following his strong first-half Heathcote was wasteful with his kicking in the second, missing four consecutive penalties which could’ve seen Worcester take a commanding lead.

The Warriors will hope that this does not become a recurring theme following poor goal-kicking when they were last in the Premiership, which eventually contributed to their relegation.

The Saints started the stronger, a long spell of possession forcing a penalty after five minutes which gave them the lead through Stephen Myler. He extended the advantage two minutes later with another penalty.

Worcester responded with a penalty in the 13th minute through Heathcote after some hard work in Northampton’s 22.

Following the early flurry of penalties the game became rather subdued with both packs doing some hard work but both teams lacked bite.

Throughout this early period Worcester tried to spread the ball out wide to the flanks inviting the challenge. This game plan finally paid off in the 31st minute after Heathcote produced a lovely ‘show and go’ before putting in his captain GJ van Velze out wide for the first try of the game. Heathcote added the extras in what was becoming a very impressive performance, giving the Warriors a four point lead at the break.

Five minutes after the break Myler pulled back three points with another penalty as Northampton attempted to mount their fightback.

Soon after Heathcote missed a chance from a penalty out wide as Worcester pushed for an immediate response.

With two minutes to go Saints earned a penalty as they earned a 10-12 lead right at the death. However, as Worcester pushed forward Heathcote positioned himself for a drop goal and put it over the posts for Worcester to earn a 13-12 victory in amazing late drama.

Final Score Worcester 13 (10) Northampton Saints 12 (6)


Tries – van Velze
Pen – Heathcote
Con – Heathcote
Drop – Heathcote

Northampton Saints
Tries –
Pen – Myler (4)
Con –
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee :Greg Garner (83rd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce and Paul Dix.
TMO: Geoff Warren.


Worcester Warriors

15 Chris Pennell , 14 Cooper Vuna , 13 Wynand Olivier , 12 Ryan Mills , 11 Tom Biggs , 10 Tom Heathcote , 9 Jonny Arr ,8 GJ van Velze (C) , 7 Sam Lewis , 6 Phil Dowson , 5 Darren Barry , 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert , 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin

Replacements : 16 Dan George , 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga , 18 Joe Rees , 19 Darren O’Shea , 20 Marco Mama , 21 Charlie Mulchrone , 22 Alex Grove , 23 Perry Humphreys

Northampton Saints

15 Ben Foden , 14 Ken Pisi , 13 Tom Stephenson , 12 Luther Burrell , 11 Jamie Elliott , 10 Stephen Myler , 9 Lee Dickson (capt) , 1 Alex Waller , 2 Dylan Hartley , 3 Kieran Brookes , 4 Michael Paterson , 5 Christian Day , 6 Jamie Gibson , 7 Jon Fisher , 8 Sam Dickinson

Replacments : 16 Mike Haywood , 17 Ethan Waller , 18 Paul Hill , 19 Teimana Harrison , 20 Ben Nutley , 21 Kahn Fotuali’i , 22 JJ Hanrahan , 23 George Pisi

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