WORCESTER Warriors pulled 10 points clear of the drop zone after overcoming relegation rivals London Irish 23-8 in the Aviva Premiership at Sixways tonight.

Two tries from Josh Adams sent Warriors on their way with his superb second on the stroke of half-time cancelling out a stunning solo effort from Alex Lewington.

The boot of Chris Pennell was also key to the victory as his 13-point haul saw his side home.

However, Warriors will be concerned over the fitness of Nick Schonert who was forced off with a ankle injury in the first period.

Irish suffered a double blow before kick-off with skipper Fergus Mulchrone (ankle) and World Cup-winning prop Ben Franks (back) pulling out through injury.

Plenty was riding on the game for both sides but thanks to some quick-thinking from Ryan Mills Warriors settled any early nerves.

With four minutes on the clock, centre Mills produced a clever kick through to Adams who gathered and went over in the corner.

Pennell confidently converted from out wide to give Worcester a 7-0 lead. Schonert had recovered from a back problem to be fit for the game but his evening lasted just 12 minutes.

The tighthead prop hobbled off with an ankle injury after being on the receiving end of a huge hit from Mike Coman.

This was among a number of big tackles in the early stages but Warriors were edging the contest.

And they increased their advantage to 10-0 courtesy of a long-range penalty from Pennell on 21 minutes.

But Warriors did not look entirely comfortable as errors kept creeping in and Irish clawed their way back.

After Jono Lance took his eye off the ball, the visitors secured a penalty in front of the posts which Greig Tonks dispatched.

And with two minutes left of the first half Lewington pulled off a stunning solo effort.

The wing made an arcing run round Warriors’ defence before gathering his own grubber kick to touch down.

But after Tonks missed the conversion Worcester hit back in superb fashion as Adams weaved his way through to the try-line.

Pennell added the extras to open up a 17-8 lead at half-time.

With the pressure mounting on the visitors, tempers started to flare as a frustrated Saia Fainga’a hit out at Donncha O’Callaghan only to receive some stern words from referee Wayne Barnes.

And Warriors soon took full advantage of Irish’s ill-discipline in the second half.

After Francois Hougaard was stopped short of the whitewash following a period of pressure, Pennell landed a penalty on 49 minutes.

And the cool-headed full-back added another moments later to stretch Worcester’s lead to 23-8.

Warriors had Irish on the ropes and they refused to hold back in search of their third try.

They turned down chances to go for goal to set up attacking line-outs in the final 15 minutes.

But the away side were hanging in there and exerted some pressure themselves without scoring.

Warriors’ Joe Taufete’e was sin-binned late on for a late tackle on Ben Meehan.

Warriors: Pennell; Heem, Willison, Mills, Adams; Lance, Hougaard; Waller, Singleton, Schonert, O’Callaghan, Spencer, Denton, Lewis, van Velze. Replacements: Taufete’e, Bower, Milasinovich, Barry, Faosiliva, Dowsett, Olver, Humphreys.

London Irish: Tonks; Cokanasiga, Fowlie, McLean, Lewington; Marshall, Meehan; Reid, Fainga’a, Du Plessis, van der Merwe, Paulo, Com, Cowan, Treviranus. Replacements: Woolstencroft, Elrington, Chawatama, De Chaves, Northcote-Green, Steele, Bell, Tikoirotuma.

Attendance: 9,647.

Referee: Wayne Barnes.