ETHAN Waller’s late red card capped a sorry night for Worcester Warriors as they slumped to a 25-16 defeat to Dragons at a rain-soaked Rodney Parade.

Warriors recovered from 13-0 down after a sluggish start to lead 16-13 thanks to accurate kicking from Duncan Weir.

But Sam Davies profited from Worcester’s ill-discipline with a 20-point haul as Waller was sent-off for a high tackle on Cory Hill in the closing eight minutes.

The result strengthened Dragons’ position at the top of Pool One while Warriors slipped to third leaving them at risk of not making the European Challenge Cup knockout stages.

Geoff Berkeley picks out five talking points from Friday’s loss.


From the moment Weir kicked off and Ted Hill put in a late hit on Cory Hill, Warriors were on the back foot. It was a clumsy error from the flanker and Warriors paid the price for it.

Dragons set up a lineout, went through several phases before Davies’ looping pass found Adam Warren who dived over in the corner. Davies made the conversion and Dragons were 7-0 up inside three minutes.

Two more Davies penalties then put Dragons further in front while Warriors were struggling to just keep hold of the ball.

Hill, Cornell du Preez and Perry Humphreys all made handling errors in a terrible opening 20 minutes before Worcester finally woke up.

They clawed their way back and took the lead but could not get rid of the mistakes as a high penalty count allowed Dragons to regain control and clinch victory.


As the rain poured down in South Wales, it was clear that this was not a night for slick attacking moves and offloading out of tackles.

Warriors needed to roll their sleeves up, win the battle up front and most importantly come out on top in the territorial tussle.

With the likes of Francois Hougaard, Weir, Ashley Beck, Chris Pennell and du Preez returning Worcester had the experience and international quality to carry out that game plan.

But they failed to deliver and Dragons, marshalled magnificently by half-back pairing Davies and Rhodri Williams, deservedly ran out victorious.

The finger might get pointed at Hougaard who kicked poorly out of hand, slicing two straight into touch, after being peppered with high balls.

But as a collective the team did not turn up as they lacked accuracy and were punished for their errors.


One of the only positives to come from this ugly showing from Warriors was Weir’s kicking. Facing heavy rain and strong winds, Weir took his chances. He landed two penalties from distance and another on the stroke of half-time to give Warriors hope as they trailed 13-9.

He also produced a superb cross-field kick to Tom Howe who crossed for Warriors’ only try before landing a touchline conversion and a further penalty to edge his side ahead.

But unlike Davies, who was supreme from the tee, Weir did miss one and it proved crucial. With the score at 16-16 on 53 minute the Scot pushed his effort wide.

Davies, meanwhile, landed all seven of his kicks at goal with many of those coming from long range as the Welshman demonstrated his international class.


Red cards are pretty rare in rugby, but Warriors have seen three in three matches. They benefitted from dismissals against Sale Sharks and Dragons, but on this occasion it was a Worcester player that was given his marching orders.

Seconds after putting in a big tackle, Waller then burst off his line and produced another crunching hit, knocking Cory Hill to the floor.

On first viewing, it looked like Waller had slammed into Hill’s shoulder but referee Ludovic Cayre and his assistant felt the prop struck the flanker’s head.

This was one of four cards brandished by Cayre as he sin-binned Brok Harris for repeated scrum infringements and gave out yellows to du Preez and Ashton Hewitt.

The duo were involved in an off-the-ball scuffle that was unnecessary and forced Cayre to stop the match when Warriors looked poised to score.


After beating Dragons 34-28 last Saturday, Warriors arrived in Newport with a strong team aiming to boost their qualification hopes.

But ex-Worcester boss Dean Ryan gained revenue as his Dragons side got the win that puts them in control of Pool One.

Warriors are now five points adrift of the leaders and three points behind Castres who battled to a bonus point victory over Enisei-STM.

Solomons’ side are likely to need two bonus-point wins to stand a chance of finishing top and securing a home quarter-final.

But with minnows Enisei and then Castres who host Dragons in the next round of fixtures due to arrive at Sixways in January, Worcester will remain hopeful of progressing.