WORCESTER Warriors produced another afternoon to remember as Dean Hammond’s last-gasp try sealed victory over Stade Francais and a home quarter-final in the European Challenge Cup.

Trailing 28-14 at half-time Warriors had it all to do but bounced back in stunning fashion at Sixways.

Sam Lewis started the fightback when he went over on the hour mark before Warriors bagged three tries in a thrilling final six minutes.

Ollie Lawrence and Tom Howe crossed before Hammond scored in the last play of an epic encounter.

Sports reporter Geoff Berkeley picks out five talking points from Saturday’s 10-try thriller.


Over the years Worcester’s fans have been scarred by many late, heart-breaking defeats.

But maybe times are changing.

Facing a 14-point deficit at the break a Worcester side with less confidence may have crumbled.

But having come back to beat Bath and Ospreys there was a renewed belief that they could turn things around.

Even when chances were squandered Worcester kept applying pressure and got their rewards as Lewis struck before Lawrence dotted down in superb style.

A Nicolas Sanchez penalty could have derailed the hosts while Pennell’s failure to convert Howe’s equalising try could have dashed their hopes too.

But Warriors’ never-say-die attitude shone through again.


With the score at 31-31 and no time left on the clock Warriors secured a penalty inside their own half.

Many kickers would have played it safe but Mills showed great courage and ability to find touch inside Stade’s 22.

It was a monstrous touchfinder and Warriors made the most of it.

After winning the lineout, Mills then sent over an inch-perfect pass to Hammond to cross in the corner.

Those two moments of quality from Mills follow his assist for Bryce Heem’s match-winning try against Bath and his drop goal in the dying seconds at Ospreys.


It can’t be easy to have the likes of Kiwi flyer Heem and Wales star Josh Adams ahead of you in the pecking order. But Howe is doing his best to win over boss Alan Solomons as he produced another try-scoring display.

The 23-year-old bagged a brace in the win at Stade in October and was at it again on Saturday as he crossed inside the first three minutes.

Although he was guilty of letting Michael Heaney’s pass slip through his grasp when clear the former Wasps ace responded well to score his second late on that increased his tally to five tries in six appearances this term.

Moments before that Howe turned provider with a superb offload for Lawrence who touched down acrobatically in the corner.

But arguably Howe’s most crucial contribution came when he secured a penalty for his side at the death which allowed Mills to set up the final lineout.


While Warriors will be keen to revel in their comeback triumph they should not overlook an error-strewn opening period.

After Howe’s early try Worcester would have expected to kick on against a youthful Stade outfit who were unable to qualify.

But the home team struggled to keep hold of the ball and were caught flat-footed in defence.

With Jules Plisson guiding his team around the field Ryan Chapuis, Laurent Sempere, Arthur Coville and Jonathan Danty all crossed to put Stade in control.

It was the third match in a row Warriors had found themselves behind at half-time but this team does not like to do things the easy way.

Poor discipline led to Stade’s demise as Danty’s sin-binning for a tip-tackle on Pennell on 55 minutes proved to be a key moment.


If Warriors had failed to beat Stade they would have missed out on hosting a quarter-final tie and faced a trip to Harlequins in the last weekend in March.

But Hammond’s score at the death means Worcester will now welcome Quins to Sixways in a clash that will be sandwiched between league battles against Bristol Bears and Wasps.

Solomons’ side have already beaten Paul Gustard’s men this season and will fancy their chances of reaching the semi-finals for the third time in their history.

Should Worcester get past Quins they will either visit Top 14 leaders Clermont who were the only side to claim a clean sweep of victories in their pool or host Northampton Saints in the last four.