Lawes back with a bang as Saints survive late Worcester rally

TRY GUY - Luther Burrell scores one of his two tries against Worcester (picture: Linda Dawson)
TRY GUY - Luther Burrell scores one of his two tries against Worcester (picture: Linda Dawson)
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England star Courtney Lawes scored on his first start of the season as Saints put in a five-star showing to beat Worcester 37-31 at Franklin’s Gardens.

Lawes, starting his first Premiership game since February, got the fourth of five tries to secure the bonus point win for his side, who claimed the win despite an amazing late rally from the Warriors.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Worcester scored four second-half tries to secure two points from a game they never looked to be in after going in at half-time 25-3 down.

Beastly Luther Burrell blitzed them in the first half with two tries, while Vasily Artemyev and Mike Haywood also dotted down.

Stephen Myler added 12 points with the boot, while the away team replied with second-half scores from replacements Jonny Arr, Josh Matavesi, Josh Drauniniu and Ollie Hayes.

Fly-half Andy Goode added 11 points, including a late conversion as the clock hit 80, to seal a losing bonus point for his team.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Prior to the game there was a minute silence and a chorus of Stand up for the Ulstermen in memory of Ulster player Nevin Spence, who tragically died in a farming accident last weekend.

The tribute was impeccably observed before the action began, with debutant James Wilson, starting in place of the injured Ben Foden, into the action early, wielding his hefty right boot.

But after the Kiwi kicked downfield, Worcester picked up possession and squeezed an early penalty out of Saints, Goode putting the visitors ahead from in front of the posts.

Myler levelled the scores almost immediately, though, slotting a penalty after good work from Lawes from the restart.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Saints were starting to turn on the power up front and one of their now trademark driving mauls won another penalty, which Myler nailed to put his side 6-3 up after 11 minutes.

The Warriors weren’t fazed by going behind and they mounted a quick attack, which resulted in relentless drives from five metres out, but they couldn’t finish it off.

And Saints made them pay as big man Burrell grabbed his second score in as many games at the Gardens, bursting through the Worcester line to score.

Myler added the extras before Goode narrowly missed a shot at the posts after Worcester had won a quick penalty from the restart.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

And it wasn’t to be long before Saints and Burrell had their second try of the game as the No.12 put the finishing touches to a fine move.

Myler converted again, and the home side were suddenly looking unstoppable.

So it proved once more as Phil Dowson slithered through, gave it to Rhys Oakley, who in turn offloaded to Artemyev who darted over the line.

Myler missed the conversion but it mattered not as Saints were already sensing a try bonus point, having scored three times in 32 minutes to make it 25-3.

Worcester were going to pieces, emphasised by the fact hooker Aleki Lutui chucked away two lineouts in succession.

Saints held their convincing lead into the break and they widened the gap even further just 10 minutes into the second half as Lawes got his try to secure the bonus point.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

The back row rounded off a move that always looked destined to result in a try and Myler converted as the party started.

Haywood and Alex Waller were introduced immediately as Dylan Hartley and Soane Tonga’uiha were rested ahead of Friday’s home game against London Wasps.

George Pisi, who was making his return from a hamstring injury, was withdrawn two minutes later, being accompanied by the physio as he walked off the field to be replaced by Dom Waldouck.

But the changes quickly strengthened Saints further as young hooker Haywood grabbed his side’s fifth try of the afternoon.

Myler missed the kick and Worcester were soon on the attack, grabbing three quick scores through Arr, Matavesi and Drauniniu.

Goode was accurate with both conversions and, unbelievably, the Warriors grabbed two points from the game as the fly-half added the extras to Hayes’ score, Worcester’ fourth of the game, at the final whistle.

Saints: Wilson; K Pisi, G Pisi (Waldouck 52), Burrell, Artemyev; Myler (Lamb 60), Dickson (Glynn 60); Tonga’uiha (Waller 50), Hartley (Haywood 50), Doran-Jones, Manoa (Wood 57), Day (Sorenson 60), Lawes, Dowson, Oakley.

Worcester: Pennell; Walker, Grove (Matavesi 53), Carlisle, Lemi (Lemi 61); Goode, Perry (Arr 40); Mullan (Ceri Jones 61), Lutui (Hayes 61), Andress (Currie 40), Percival, Schofield (Gillies 53 , Chris Jones (Kvesic 53), Betty, Taulava.

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

Attendance: 12,114