Premiership: London Irish 22-9 Worcester Warriors
|London Irish (13) 22|
|Tries: Van Zyl Cons: Tonks Pens: Tonks 5|
|Worcester (6) 9|
|Pens: Pennell 3|
London Irish won at the Madejski Stadium in the Premiership for the first time this season as victory over 11th-placed Worcester raised hopes of the bottom club avoiding relegation.
Defeat would have all but ended the Exiles' chances with six games left.
But they have instead climbed to within 12 points of the Warriors.
Piet van Zyl got the game's only try in a game otherwise decided by the boot, Greig Tonks kicking five penalties to Chris Pennell's three.
Following victories over champions Exeter and Gloucester, Warriors were looking to win three Premiership games in a row for the first time since March 2016 - and leave Irish five wins adrift.
But Worcester had not won away since 2005 against Irish, whose only previous Premiership win this season was against Harlequins at Twickenham on the first weekend. And the injury-hit visitors were disrupted by two late changes.
The withdrawal of Jackson Willison meant two other positional switches, with Chris Pennell moving to centre, Wales international Josh Adams going to full-back and Dean Hammond coming in on the left wing.
They then also lost hooker Jack Singleton, who suffered a back spasm in the warm-up and was replaced by Kurt Haupt.
And they were also weakened by the loss before the break of South Africa scrum-half Francois Hougaard.
The visitors looked to be off to a great start when Irish had Teofilo Paulo yellow carded for leading with his shoulder in a tackle in only the fourth minute, allowing Pennell to kick Worcester in front.
But determined Irish quickly levelled with a penalty from Tonks, who then added the extras to scrum-half Van Zyl's try before kicking another penalty for a 13-3 lead.
Pennell got one back with the boot just before the break and, after a third Tonks penalty on 53 minutes, again reduced the lead to seven points with his third penalty on the hour.
But, in a poor game won by comfortably the better side, two more late Tonks penalties ended Worcester's hopes of claiming even a losing bonus point.
London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy told BBC Radio Berkshire:
"We're all very pleased to win. We spoke about how last time we played Worcester, we really let ourselves down and put out a really poor game.
"This was about putting that right and showing people we are a really good rugby team.
"We still need to be more clinical once we get into the opposition 22. So that's the work-on for the weeks ahead.
"Survival's still mathematically possible, but we're just going to concentrate on taking scalps a game at a time and showing people that we're a good team. That starts on Tuesday when we're back in training."
Worcester director of rugby Alan Solomons told BBC Hereford & Worcester:
"It was disappointing, but the last two games took their toll both physically and emotionally.
"We had a disrupted week in the warm-up, but you should take nothing away from London Irish. They fully deserved their victory.
"They had a very simple game plan fundamentally. They kicked for field position and kicked a lot of contestables.
"The penalty count was very heavy against us. We were unable to implement what we wanted to do."
London Irish: Marshall; Cokanasiga, Fowlie, Williams, Lewington; Tonks, Van Zyl; Franks, Paice, Hoskins, Van der Merwe (capt), Paulo, Botha, Gilsenan, Treviranus.
Replacements: Porecki, Elrington, Du Plessis, De Chaves, Schatz, Steele, Bell, Tikoirotuma.
Sin bin: Paulo (5)
Worcester: Adams; Heem, Pennell, Mills, Hammond; Shillcock, Hougaard; Waller, Haupt, Schonert, O'Callaghan (capt), Barry, Faosiliva, Lewis, van Velze.
Replacements: Williams, Bower, Milasinovich, Bresler, Spencer, Cox, Arr, Howe.
Referee: JP Doyle.