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Worcester Warriors are left to rue late missed opportunity in Amlin Challenge Cup at Oyonnax
10:45am Monday 14th October 2013 in Sport
WARRIORS fought out a hard-earned draw in the pouring rain of the Jura mountains against Oyonnax in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
However, it could — and should — have been the Sixways side’s first win of the season as poor decision-making came back to haunt them at the death.
With a matter of minutes left on the clock, the call was made to fire a kickable penalty to touch rather than going for goal, which would have given them a 12-6 lead.
Warriors made a hash of the line-out and Oyonnax were able to summon up one last charge and forced a penalty of their own in front of the sticks for Conrad Barnard to snatch a draw with the final kick of the game.
Paul Warwick kicked three penalties as Worcester led 9-3 at the break before a powerful second-half display from Oyonnax climaxed in Barnard’s late kick.
Dean Hammond started on the wing for Warriors with Dean Ryan giving seven players their first starts of the season.
Summer signings Warwick, Cam Goodhue, Alex Grove, Richard de Carpentier and Ben Howard all made the starting XV with new signing Mariano Galarza on the bench.
The hosts opened the scoring following a powerful driving attack that was rewarded with a penalty on 13 minutes, which allowed Barnard to slot between the posts.
Howard was regularly among the action, making darting runs into the opponents’ half and, after Alex Grove made inroads, Warriors found themselves with a penalty, which Warwick punted over.
Josh Matavesi shook off tackles to charge down the middle of the field as Warriors continued to threaten a French side that have already beaten Clermont and Toulon this season.
And after powerful breaks from Dean Schofield and Jake Abbott, Warriors forced an Oyonnax infringement, giving Warwick the simple task of kicking over in front of goal.
Oyonnax retrieved the ball and looked likely to get the first try of the night but Warriors valiantly weathered the storm just two metres from their try-line to win a penalty.
After the break, Dean Ryan introduced Ed Shervington and new signing Galarza, but Oyonnax reduced the deficit halfway through the second-half when Barnard kicked another penalty as the conditions continued to test both sides.
The visitors finally had an attack late in the second-half as Shervington made a dent in the Oyonnax backline with Howard again demonstrating his pace and agility.
Chad Slade was then sin-binned to leave Oyonnax with 14 men for the remainder of the game after a high tackle on Jeremy Su’a.
However, Warriors were unable to close out the victory their hard work merited as a tactical meltdown left their hopes of a first win this term in tatters.
Warriors: Howard; Hammond, Grove, Matavesi (Stelling 70), Lemi (Mieres 66); Warwick, Su'a; Porter, Brooker (Shervington 48), Andress, Schofield (Galarza 55), Jones, de Carpentier, Abbott (Thomas 66), Goodhue.
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