A YOUNG Worcester Warriors side slipped to a narrow 19-12 defeat to Enisei-STM in their European Challenge Cup opener at the Slava Stadium in Moscow.

The Russians raced into a 10-0 lead with five points from the boot of Yuri Kushnarev and a try for Georgia international Davit Kacharava before Warriors hit back with a Josh Adams score converted by Jamie Shillcock.

With Enisei leading 10-7 at the break, Kushnarev hit two more penalties after the interval before Derrick Appiah came off the bench to score for Warriors.

But Ramil Gaisin’s late drop-goal sealed the win for Enisei on a bitterly cold day in Russia.

Backs cach Sam Vesty, taking charge of Warriors for the European campaign, blooded a number of young players with 18-year-old centre Will Butler making his debut.

But things didn’t get off to a good start when Warriors were pinged at the breakdown and Kushnarev slotted the resulting penalty.

Then Kacharava shoved his way over allowing Kushnarev to add two more from the tee.

But the young Warriors, with a matchday 23 that averaged just 22-years-old, were right back at the hosts and Hammond’s piercing line-break saw him race towards the line before unselfishly teeing up Adams to dot down.

Shillcock notched the conversion from a slight angle to bring the score to 10-7 after just 11 minutes.

Both sides found themselves in good positions but couldn’t make any territory count as the half ticked away without any more clear-cut chances.

Zac Xiourouppa made his Warriors debut before the break and, shortly after the interval, George de Cothi made his second debut for the club after rejoining the academy in the summer as he came on for Butler.

Tiff Eden also replaced Hammond and, due to knocks, Warriors were forced into a makeshift back-line which at one stage saw Ryan Lamb at fly-half, Max Stelling and Andy Short in the centre, Adams and De Cothi on the wings and Eden at full-back.

Despite the task ahead of them, the youngsters continued to show promise when breaking into the Enisei half.

But Kushnarev, capped 81 times by Russia, landed two more penalties, including one from near the halfway line, as the loud Moscow support started to sense victory.

Academy products Andrew Kitchener and Jack Singleton and summer signing Biyi Alo all came off the bench for their Warriors debuts as Vesty’s youngsters chased a way back into the game.

And they got just that after a dominant spell by the Russian try line as replacement loosehead Appiah peeled off down the blindside from a line-out to score in the corner.

Enisei replacement Gaisin slotted the drop-goal to give the Russians a seven-point lead with five minutes to go and, despite some late drama, Warriors couldn’t find a way through and were forced to settle for a losing bonus point.

Warriors: Adams 7; Short 7, Stelling 6, Butler 6 (De Cothi 45, 6), Hammond 7 (Eden 40, 6); Shillcock 6 (Lamb 43-50), Baldwin 6; Bower 6 (Appiah 68), Williams 6 (Singleton 71), Daniels 6 (Alo 68), Hewitt 6 (Kitchener 60), Scotland-Williamson 7, Taylor 6, Betty 6 (Xiourouppa 35 6), Cox 7.


02m Kushnarev pen 3-0

07m Kacharava try 8-0

08m Kushnarev con 10-0

10m Adams try 10-5

11m Shillcock con 10-7

48m Kushnarev 13-7

64m Kushnarev 16-7

70m Appiah try 16-12

74m Gaisin d-g 19-12