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Champions crash again to slip to fourth in table
1:00pm Wednesday 9th October 2013 in Sport
REIGNING Women’s Premiership rugby union champions Worcester suffered their second consecutive away defeat of the season.
They are fourth in the eight-team table after four games following a 29-19 defeat at Bristol which followed last month’s 26-12 loss at early leaders Richmond.
Worcester won the crown for the first time last season and, despite plenty of team changes, opened their current campaign with a powerful 77-12 victory at promoted Aylesford Bulls.
But they slipped behind at Bristol and their task will be to transfer the belief and passion shown in the final 20 minutes to the whole game.
The visitors stuttered under a wave of pressure and were hammered by the penalty count and in the scrum in the first period.
However, against the run of play, they opened the scoring after eight minutes as Samantha Bree outpaced three defenders to make Ceri Large’s conversion in front of the posts an easy task.
Bristol hit back but a quick break between the visitors’ Kat Merchant and Steph Johnson saw the former score in the corner three minutes later.
Worcester were reduced to 14 players, though, by the first of their three yellow cards in the game with the hosts later receiving one.
Bristol’s considerable possession went unrewarded until their strong centres and pack enabled El Snowsill to power over the line with Amber Reed converting.
Worcester were increasingly frustrated by a series of controversial refereeing decisions and, as the penalty count mounted, Reed took advantage with a successful kick.
Despite dogged defence, Worcester conceded again on 36 minutes when uncharacteristic missed tackles allowed Sasha Acheson through to make it 15-12 to Bristol, Reed narrowly missing the conversion.
The second-half saw Bristol have the edge in tactics and possession but there was an encouraging debut from former under 18s player Sophie Watkiss at outside-centre for the Sixways side.
The penalties continued to flow with both teams receiving yellow cards in the second-half and the referee’s whistle spoilt the flow of the game.
With their opponents again down to 14, Bristol’s Reed finished off a fine move on 58 minutes and converted.
But Worcester dug deep, found real belief and began to dominate possession with Rochelle Clarke impressive.
Watkiss demonstrated quick thinking to make the most of space and put the visitors back in the game with a try under the posts, converted by Large.
Bristol secured victory with a late Kay Wilson effort converted out wide by Reed.