CHRIS Pennell helped rescue two valuable points for Worcester Warriors from a 33-30 defeat to Exeter Chiefs but his side still slipped closer to the relegation zone.

The long-serving full-back who was celebrating his 150th Premiership appearance roared with delight after touching down for the bonus-point try that also got his beloved team within three points of the table-toppers at Sixways.

The 75th minute score came after Bryce Heem, Ted Hill and Tom Howe crossed in a thrilling second half as Warriors battled back from 19-6 down at the break.

But some sloppy first-up tackling allowed Chiefs to run in five tries with Santiago Cordero scoring twice and Tom O’Flaherty, Olly Woodburn and Harry Williams going over. The victory takes Exeter eight points clear at the top.

Worcester, on the other hand, are just three points above bottom club Newcastle Falcons who claimed a shock 20-19 win at Wasps.

Sports reporter Geoff Berkeley picks out five talking points from Saturday’s loss.


Whenever full-back Cordero and wingers O’Flaherty and Woodburn got hold of the ball they posed real problems for the hosts.

The trio combined for the first of Cordero’s two tries as Warriors struggled to contain them.

Worcester battled hard at the breakdown, often winning the collisions, and their scramble defence performed well. But Exeter’s players slipped off far too many first-up tackles as Alan Solomons’ men conceded several soft tries and Cordero showed his class.

Chiefs were also presented with a gift just before the break when Duncan Weir fumbled on halfway, O’Flaherty kicked ahead, Tom Howe failed to gather and Woodburn scored.


For whatever reason Weir who been one of Warriors’ most consistent performers this season is not firing at the moment.

But at least Worcester have got another top-class fly-half to turn to. As soon as Jono Lance replaced Weir on 52 minutes he made a big impact and gave his side a new lease of life.

His direct approach forced Chiefs on the back foot and he played with greater purpose along with tenacious scrum-half Francois Hougaard.

With Weir out of form former Super Rugby ace Lance needs to be given a chance to start at number 10 as he has got the ability to run the show.

Another player who is knocking on the door for a starting shirt is Ollie Lawrence. After coming on for Francois Venter the 19-year-old put in four dominant tackles in quick succession and was a threat in attack.


Niall Annett gives absolutely everything whenever he pulls on the Warriors jersey and proved why he should be handed a contract extension.

After trudging off with his arm in a sling in the Premiership Cup semi-final against Saracens the injury-hit hooker’s time at Worcester seemed to be coming to an end.

But with Jack Singleton sidelined with an elbow injury and Isaac Miller struggling at Falcons Annett made a quicker than expected recovery from his shoulder issue to put his body on the line for club.

The out-of-contract Ulsterman was a vocal presence in the front row, landed all but one of his throws at the lineout and teed up Hill and Heem for their tries.

Annett looked in some discomfort when he left the field but his committed performance may well be enough to secure his future at Warriors.


It had to be Pennell that grabbed Warriors’ all-important fourth try. During his 12 seasons at his boyhood club the 31-year-old has made a habit of popping up with crucial scores and this one could be vital come the end of the season.

With Exeter leading by 13 points Pennell’s hopes for a “perfect day” on his record-breaking top-flight appearance looked in tatters.

But Pennell’s team-mates were determined to give him a testimonial day to remember as they fought back valiantly. With five minutes to go Hougaard fed Pennell who cut through and touched down under the posts before adding the extras.

The Sixways stalwart also became only the sixth Warriors player to go beyond the 400-point mark.


When Warriors headed down the tunnel at half-time the stadium announcer confirmed that Newcastle had beaten Wasps.

It was a stunning away win for Falcons with Brett Connon landing a last-gasp penalty and was met with groans at Sixways.

Worcester responded by securing two points to give them a three-point gap but with Falcons gaining in confidence it’s getting tight at the bottom.

Premiership action returns on Saturday, March 23 with Warriors visiting in-form Bristol Bears and Newcastle hosting Sale Sharks.