The first and second teams of both clubs respected a minute’s silence in memory of Club President, Roger James known to all as Jesse.
This was the first match since Jesse’s passing and was an emotional day for many. The players did their bit by gaining a double over their local rivals. The first team winning a tough match by 23 points to 16 and the Development XV getting a 24 – 10 victory.
Hereford kicked off playing up the slope and within ten minutes were 5 points ahead with an unconverted try. Worcester made good use of the slope and by the interval had taken a lead of 13 points to 5 with a converted try and a brace of penalties. The big Worcester pack tested the Hereford eight and for a period in the second half threatened to take control, but the tenacious Hereford forwards hung on and provided the platform to complete a league double by 23 points to 16.
A happy player coach, Luke Fisher said “As usual this was a closely contested and tight game between local rivals with both sides playing some good rugby and the boys, especially Leon Parsons, put in a very good defensive performance. Worcester took a lead into half time and we talked about tightening up and being more direct in the second half. This we did with James Stubbs kicking to the corner and putting pressure on Worcester. It was good to welcome back Perry Pudge and Sean Day. The back row put in a good performance with Matt Pritchard leading by example and the front five had a tough afternoon against a powerful Worcester pack. They dug in and worked well together to give the backs the ball they needed and played the game out pinning Worcester in the corner. A very good performance, just what we needed get the win, breaking a run of five losses and a fitting goodbye to our mate Jesse.”
Hereford made a bright start from the kick-off. Richard Preece gathered the ball and set off on a run involving Perry Pudge and Tom Ewins which took play into the Worcester 22. Shortly after a Worcester defensive kick missed to find touch, Hereford gathered and Leon Parsons made a penetrating run into the Worcester 22 to score an individual try in the corner. The visitors reduced the deficit with a penalty after Hereford offended at the breakdown. Sean Day was prominent with a couple of good thrusting runs but Worcester controlled the rest of the first half. They scored an individual try off the left wing with the help of several half-hearted tackles. The conversion and a second penalty saw them take a lead of 8 points into the interval.
The Wyesiders made a good driving start to the second half and kept Worcester penned in their 22. The pressure told and after a Worcester player was dispatched to the bin, Hereford found a good touch from the penalty. From the lineout Gareth jones made ground, the move was carried on to the line by Leon Parsons and scrumhalf, Rhys Procter crossed for the try. Hereford regained the lead when a break by Perry Pudge was carried on by Matt Hill for the third try, converted by James Stubbs to take the score to 17 – 13. Worcester landed a penalty to cut the deficit to a single point, but two penalties from Stubbs closed the game off at 23 points to 16.
The backs, rejuvenated by the return of Perry Pudge, back working in tandem at centre with Tom Ewins and Sean Day back from injury, started to look like a potent attacking unit again. The forwards, outweighed and out powered, dug in and gained more than enough ball for the backs, with Richard Preece and Matt Pritchard leading by example. This was an excellent come back after a series of defeats, but there could easily have been a different result had Worcester been able to capitalise on the extreme penalty count in their favour. Losing the penalty count has long been the Achilles Heel of the Hereford team and more attention is needed to cutting out some of the silly offences. Next week Longton travel to Wyeside and the Wyesiders will hope to build on this result.