Premiership: Worcester Warriors 13-12 Northampton Saints

By Ged ScottBBC Sport at Sixways
Worcester celebrate
Worcester beat Bristol in the Championship play-off final in May
Worcester (10) 13
Try: Van Velze Con: Heathcote Pen: Heathcote Drop-goal: Heathcote
Northampton (6) 12
Pens: Myler 4
Relive Friday's Premiership action

New signing Tom Heathcote kicked an injury-time drop-goal as Worcester beat Northampton to make a winning return to the Premiership.

Northampton stand-off Stephen Myler's reliable right boot appeared to have won it for Saints on 78 minutes with his fourth penalty.

But Heathcote coolly made up for his three second-half penalty misses.

It was also Heathcote's deft dummy which set up home skipper GJ van Velze for the only try of the night.

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Last time they were in the top flight two seasons ago, Dean Ryan's Worcester took until March to win a game.

But, bolstered by a host of new signings - seven of whom made their debut - Warriors look like proving a lot more competitive this time around.

Warriors, who beat Bristol in May's Championship play-off to win promotion, responded to Myler's two early penalties with one of their own from debutant Heathcote, a summer arrival from Edinburgh, before the hosts took the lead with the move of the night.

Scotland international fly-half Heathcote's shimmy created a gap and he set up Van Velze to score in the right corner, before adding the conversion.

Stephen Myler penalty
Stephen Myler's 78th-minute penalty looked to have given Northampton victory at Sixways

Worcester's 10-6 half-time lead was then cut by another Myler penalty before Heathcote missed three penalties and team-mate Ryan Mills hit the post with a long-range effort.

It looked like they would be made to pay when Myler put last season's Premiership table toppers in front, but Heathcote won it with the very last kick of the match.

The Sixways seven
Due to two late alterations which ruled out flanker Sam Lewis and prop Val Rapava Ruskin, Warriors had seven players making their competitive debuts. Loose forward Marco Mama and prop Na'ama Leleimalefaga came in to add the pre-selected debutants, centre Wynand Oliver, stand-off Tom Heathcote, locks Donncha O'Callaghan and flanker Phil Dowson.

Worcester coach Dean Ryan:

"Tom was very disappointed that he missed those penalty kicks but fair play to him, he stood up to the task and successfully pulled the trigger, when we could have easily gone through more phases.

"It was so good for him as he's bounced around a few clubs and he'll get a lot of confidence from this.

"We knew there was a gap between the Championship and the Premiership but we couldn't assess how big it was.

"Tonight we saw it wasn't huge and it was an excellent reference point as we showed that we can complete physically. It's a nice four points for us as our scrum stood up to a powerful side and we had decent control but we can do even better."

Northampton coach Jim Mallinder:

"We were pedestrian and one-dimensional and have a lot of improving to do.

"We didn't look after the ball and I lost count of how many times we turned over the ball.

"They could have easily scored a few more points in the second half as they defended very well and forced us into a number of errors and stopped us from getting on the front foot."

Worcester Warriors: Pennell; Vuna, Olivier, Mills, Biggs; Heathcote, Arr; Leleimalefaga, Annett, Schonert, O'Callaghan, Barry, Dowson, Mama, Van Velze (capt).

Replacements: George, Bower, Rees, O'Shea, Cox, Mulchrone, Grove, Humphreys.

Northampton Saints: Foden; K Pisi, Stephenson, Burrell, Elliott; Myler, Dickson (capt); Waller, Hartley, Brookes, Paterson, Day, Gibson, Fisher, Dickinson.

Replacements: Haywood, Waller, Hill, Harrison, Nutley, Fotuali'i, Hanrahan, G Pisi.

Referee: Greg Garner (RFU)

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