A FAMILIAR foe swung the momentum of this hard-fought Aviva Premiership battle at Welford Road.

Warriors could argue two second-half decisions at defensive scrums from referee Greg Garner put paid to their victory hopes against the Champions Cup semi-finalists.

But Warriors have made too many errors when trying to gather opposition restarts this season and it came back to bite them against Tigers.

Instead of heading into the interval with a 17-14 lead, a knock-on from replacement lock Donncha O’Callaghan allowed Tigers an attacking platform before the break.

After securing the scrum, a superb Tigers handling move exploited weak tackling as full-back Telusa Veainu smashed through Andy Symons, Bryce Heem and Gerrit-Jan van Velze for a converted score.

Warriors trailed 21-17 at half-time when they should have been ahead and Dean Ryan’s men didn’t manage another point in the contest.

It was a fillip on the stroke of half-time Tigers didn’t deserve, particularly with the discipline and intensity Warriors had shown to go toe-to-toe with the hosts after an early blunder from Chris Pennell.

The Warriors full-back had a difficult afternoon, gifting an intercept for Tigers wing Vereniki Goneva to score an early converted try.

Pennell’s error came after Warriors made a promising start and took the lead with a long-range penalty from Ryan Mills.

Worcester’s scrum was powerful in the first half with Carl Kirwan and skipper van Velze quick to the breakdown as the visitors impressed.

A big hit from van Velze on hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini led to Warriors’ first try.

Francois Hougaard collected the loose ball to burst through midfield before finding support from Bryce Heem, who charged over the line.

Tom Heathcote converted.

Tigers responded with a close-range try from giant number eight Opeti Fonua, which Owen Williams, who finished with 11 points, converted.

However, an enterprising Warriors regained the lead after a sustained period of forward pressure.

The soon-to-depart Symons marked his 50th appearance with a try and Heathcote’s conversion gave Warriors a three-point cushion.

It was a lead Warriors should have taken into the dressing room.

When play resumed for the second half, prolonged heavy rain changed the complexion of the match as it became a forward-dominated affair.

Sam Betty, who had replaced Phil Dowson (head injury) at half-time, almost broke through but the ball squirmed from his grasp with the try-line gaping.

Despite losing Darren Barry (foot) and Val Rapava Ruskin (ankle) to first-half injuries, Warriors’ forwards remained competitive.

Tigers replacement Dan Cole then conceded a penalty on the edge of his own 22 but Heathcote’s close-range attempt struck the outside of the post.

With Tigers gaining the upper hand in the scrums, the momentum shifted and the home pack drove Warriors off the ball to win a penalty decision.

After kicking to the corner, Tigers set up a driving maul and replacement Will Evans crashed over for his first senior try.

Williams slotted the conversion to stretch Tigers’ lead and he landed a tricky three-pointer soon afterwards from a scrum penalty to take the match beyond Worcester’s reach at 31-17.

Tigers booked their place in the Premiership play-offs for a 12th successive season and Warriors left empty-handed after a gritty display.