Worcester Warriors 15, Biarritz 19

BIARRITZ scored a try with 21 seconds of the match remaining to snatch an Amlin Challenge Cup victory over Worcester Warriors tonight.

Worcester, who had Richard de Carpentier in the side after he was cleared of eye-gouging by an RFU disciplinary panel, felt they had done enough for a narrow win when full-back Chris Pennell made it 15-14 with a 72nd-minute penalty, but flanker Tanguy Molcard broke Warriors hearts right at the death.

After 26 minutes of each side taking turns to make unforced errors, the contest suddenly burst into life when Dean Hammond broke the deadlock with his first try for the club.

Jonathan Thomas took the ball quickly off the top of a line-out for Paul Warwick to find the South African youngster coming in off his wing and making an arcing run to the line.

Pennell was handed the kicking duties for the night, but the conversion was the second regulation chance of the game he spurned.

Reinvigorated, Warriors attacked again minutes later and this time it was Alex Grove who profited with a try, crashing over after taking Josh Matavesi’s pass at pace and Pennell made a mockery of his two misses with a superb conversion.

The tide then turned when loosehead Ofa Fainga’anuku was yellow-carded for a cynical pull-back as Biarritz looked set to score.

The visitors made the most of their numerical advantage with American flier Taku Ngwenya coasting in round the blindside when Worcester were preoccupied defending a line-out drive. Julien Peyrelongue added the extras to make it 12-7.

After the break, it was Biarritz’s turn to go down to 14 men as loosehead Fabian Barcella was sent to the bin.

Warriors again claimed the upper hand, but were unable to capitalise on the chances they created and paid the price in bizarre circumstances.

The ball popped out of a ruck and replacement scrum-half Yann Lesourgues pounced to round the isolated Pennell and hand Peyrelongue a simple conversion to put his side ahead for the first time.

Biarritz then had a try chalked off for a forward pass after a flowing counter-attack from deep, but Warriors edged ahead when Pennell stroked a penalty between the sticks with eight minutes to go.

However, the French battlers turned the screw in the closing moments and created numbers out on the right for number eight Ueleni Fono to go through a gap and send his fellow back-rower Molcard over to land the knock-out blow.

Warriors: Pennell; Stephenson, Grove, Matavesi (Stelling, 57), Hammond; Warwick, Su’a (Hodgson, 49); Fainga’anuku (Porter, 69), Shervington (Seymour, 69), O’Donnell, Percival (Williams, 69), Galarza, de Carpentier (Porter 43-45), Betty (Jones, 78), Thomas. Not used: Andress, Mieres.

Attendance: 4,615.

Referee: Dudley Phillips.

Meanwhile, Sixways flanker Andrew Boyce came on as a second-half replacement as England Under 18s defeat Australia 23-3 at Harrow School.

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