Premiership: London Irish 20-13 Worcester Warriors
|London Irish (10) 20|
|Tries: Hearn, Fenby Cons: Geraghty 2 Pens: Geraghty 2|
|Worcester (3) 13|
|Tries: Heem, Rapava-Ruskin Pen: Mills|
London Irish beat fellow strugglers Worcester at home to move off the bottom of the Premiership table.
Ciaran Hearn's kick and take over the top of the Warriors' defence helped the hosts into a 10-3 half-time lead.
Bryce Heem reduced the deficit by scoring just after returning from the sin-bin, shortly after Topsy Ojo had a try ruled out in his 250th Irish game.
Exiles back Andrew Fenby and Warriors prop Val Rapava-Ruskin exchanged tries before Shane Geraghty's late penalty.
Irish's third league victory of the season lifts them above Newcastle, with whom they are level on points, while Worcester's losing bonus point leaves them just a point above in 10th.
The Madejski Stadium is somewhere Worcester often struggle - their only win having come in September 2005 - and Dean Ryan's side, who had both Bryce Heem and Donncha O'Callaghan sinbinned, have now lost 12 successive games in all competitions.
Further handicapped by the pre-match loss of fly-half Tom Heathcote, who was injured in the warm-up, they started badly.
Halani Aulika had already seen a try ruled out before Canada international Hearn crossed, his second try for Irish, before Geraghty and Worcester's Ryan Mills traded penalties.
Heem's early unconverted second-half try, just four minutes after returning from the sin bin, brought it back to 10-8.
Ojo then thought he was celebrating his milestone Exiles appearance when the ball was played to him out wide and he raced in, but the Television Match Official ruled it out for a block in the build-up.
Fenby's converted try on 54 minutes stretched the Irish lead back to 17-8 but Irish then went down to 14 men themselves when hooker David Paice was sinbinned, during which time Rapava Ruskin crossed to get the Warriors back within four points.
But Geraghty's penalty was enough to secure a defeat which, given Warriors' losing bonus point, could have proved more damaging.
Irish assistant coach Clark Laidlaw told BBC Radio Berkshire:
"It was always going to be a tight game. If both teams had been mid-table, maybe you might have seen one of the teams pull away.
"But, we knew it was going to be tight. We talked about how the game was going to ebb and flow.
"We tried to take stock when they were on top. When we were on top, it was a matter of trying to take the opportunities.
"Maybe a lack of accuracy from us at a couple of set pieces and their good defence meant we left a couple of tries out there."
Warriors boss Dean Ryan told BBC Hereford & Worcester:
"The first 40 minutes was terrible. I can't quite put my finger on it as it's not what we've seen in the past.
"We had a late change with Tom Heathcote going down in the warm-up with a back spasm, but we just had a revolving door for 40 minutes.
"It unsettled everybody and we froze a little bit. I'm making things up to find what it looked like, because I just don't recognise it.
"It's unacceptable to play in a game of this magnitude and not have the energy. There's no hiding from that and papering over the cracks, Irish were in charge of that game for 50-60 minutes."
London Irish: Fenby; Ojo, Hearn, Mulchrone, Tikoirotuma; Geraghty, McKibbin; Court, Paice, Aulika, Symons, Lloyd, Sinclair, Narraway, McCusker.
Replacements: Halavatau (for Aulika, 59), Smallbone (for Court, 61), Ellis (for Sinclair, 64), Nagle (for Lloyd, 67), Williams (for Tikoirotuma, 70), Allinson (for Steele, 71).
Not Used: Guest, Brophy-Clews.
Sin Bin: Paice (62).
Worcester: Pennell; Heem, Olivier, Mills, Vuna; Lamb, Baldwin; Leleimalefaga, Annett, Schonert, O'Callaghan, Cavubati, Dowson, Cox, van Velze (capt).
Replacements: Symons for Lamb (40), Rapava Ruskin for Leleimalefaga (47), Bregvadze for Annett (52), Mulchrone for Baldwin (55), Mama for Cox (59). Johnston for Schonert (67).
Not Used: D Sanderson, Hammond.
Sin Bin: Heem (32), O'Callaghan (50).
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