Bristol v Worcester: Playing away leg first suits Warriors, says Betty

Sam Betty
Former Cornish Pirates flanker Sam Betty has scored 12 tries for Worcester in the Championship this season

Worcester flanker Sam Betty says that Bristol's decision to stage the home leg of their Championship play-off final first can play into their hands.

Bristol had their fingers burned a year ago when they chose to travel in the first leg and lost 27-8 at London Welsh to give themselves too much work to do in the second leg.

But Betty admits: "To come back here to Sixways for the home leg seems ideal.

"I think it plays into our hands, if anything," he told BBC Sport.

"Last year they struggled in the away leg and were too far down to do much about it.

"But to have the home support behind us for the home leg will be great. It's definitely a positive for us."

Worcester top Championship try scorers 2014-15
Max Stelling 15Sam Smith 14Tom Biggs 13Sam Betty 12

Worcester director of rugby Dean Ryan was not surprised by Bristol's decision in the light of the events of a year ago, when Andy Robinson's side not not only lost the home leg but then went down in the home leg too.

"The only surprise was that we had to pretend it was a secret, having known about it for the last 12 months," Ryan told BBC Sport. "They've intimated that all year."

If Bristol hope to have avoided that hurdle this time, they ought to have a psychological edge, having twice beaten Worcester in this season's two league meetings.

But the last-gasp 23-19 defeat at Ashton Gate in September and Bristol's 30-26 win at Sixways in the reverse fixture eight months later could both have gone either way.

David Lemi
David Lemi, along with Chris Brooker, will be one of two Worcester old boys up against their former club

And Betty, one of Worcester's stalwarts this season with 12 Championship tries, is quick to point out just how well matched the two teams are.

"They beat us twice and finished top, so credit to them for that," added Betty. "But they were both very tight games and I think it'll be be very tight again, probably down to a couple of points either way."

It all adds to the chemistry that while Bristol will have two Warriors old boys in their team, Chris Brooker and David Lemi, Worcester boss Ryan is a Bristol old boy.

And he has already angered his old club by luring two Bristol players to Sixways next season in Andy Short and Luke Baldwin.

With Jonny Arr suspended, full-back Chris Pennell, if fit, and centre Alex Grove will be Warriors' only survivors of their last experience in the 2011 play-offs when they beat Cornish Pirates 46-32 over two legs.

Warriors out to overturn losing run against Bristol
Worcester have lost just three times in 24 Championship matches this season, two of them were to Bristol and the other one in Jersey.
But the Warriors have a better record in the play-offs, having won in 2011, in comparison to Bristol's three failures in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

But Betty was one of the Pirates' replacements off the bench in the return leg at Sixways ahead of his summer move to Worcester.

"This is quite a different scenario," he said. "Pirates were very much the underdogs then. Whereas this season, with us and Bristol, it's a lot more 50/50.

"Last year was tough. We came good just too late. But, once you've played in the Premiership, you want to be there again. And that makes it a massive game for both of us.

"It's a long season which comes down to two games of rugby, but we knew that before we started. It's all about preparing as professionally as you can.

"You just have to remember it's only half-time and you don't need panic too much if you're a few points down."