WORCESTER Warriors made a fine start to their pre-season campaign with a well-earned 14-12 victory over Benetton at Stadio di Monigo on a sweltering Friday evening in Italy.

Alan Solomons’ side opened the scoring when Chris Pennell went over after the ball was recycled from an Alafoti Fa’osiliva break only for the hosts to bounce back with tries for Marco Barbini and ex-Warriors prop Derrick Appiah to make it 12-7 at the break.

But a dominant second-half display saw Worcester rewarded when Joe Taufete’e crashed over and Jamie Shillcock’s conversion proved to be the difference.

Isaac Miller and Duncan Weir were making their debuts for the club in the friendly and the duo were heavily involved early on.

Both teams looked to get ball in hand but a series of loose passes and knock-ons early on saw most of the play in the middle of the field, until an almighty break from Fa’osiliva.

The forward clattered his way past several defenders before using Francois Hougaard, Sam Lewis and then GJ van Velze who was denied just short of the line.

However, the ball was recycled and Pennell showed strength out wide to plough through his man and score with Weir landing the extras.

Warriors looked to get in behind Benetton again as Ryan Mills chipped through for Perry Humphreys to chase.

But after the 15-minute mark the hosts seemed to find their stride and Solomons’ men were forced into a spot of defending.

Barbini burrowed his way over from close range after 20 minutes to close the gap to 7-5 before a drinks break in the 30-degree heat.

Francois Venter was then introduced and made a strong carry into space with his first touch of the ball before Warriors threatened again in the 22.

It was then a fine 10-minute spell for Benetton who dominated up front and Hougaard was handed a yellow card for putting his hands in the scrum following a series of penalties conceded by his team.

With 14 men, Warriors did withstand one onslaught superbly, but the pressure told as Appiah smashed his way over the line and Antonio Rizzi’s kick made it 12-7.

The 40-minute replacements made a real impact as Warriors played with pace and purpose in the early moments of the second period.

Venter looked ever dangerous while Matt Cox stormed forward as the visitors applied pressure in the 22 before conceding possession.

After a stampeding maul from the 22 they soon won a penalty before Taufete’e crashed over from the resulting lineout. Shillcock’s conversion put them back in front.

More opportunities came with five-metre lineouts but Warriors failed to convert good territory and field position going into the final quarter.

It was then Benetton’s turn to occupy some handy field position and territory but they coughed the ball up short of the line twice in the final ten minutes to let Warriors off the hook.

The final stages were scrappy with both tiring sides knocking on in the first couple of phases but Warriors held on.

Worcester Warriors: Pennell (Van Breda 40-71); Humphreys (Howe 40), Lawrence (Venter 20-40), Mills (Venter 40), Hammond; Weir (Shillcock 40), Hougaard (Arr 40); Bower (Black 40), Miller (Taufete’e 45), Milasinovich (Kerrod 40), Bresler (Phillips 40), Barry (Kitchener 40), Fa’osiliva (Cox 40), Lewis (Williams 40), van Velze (c) (Mama 40).