Worcester crashed to their sixth defeat in a row as Northampton ended their own miserable run of losses with a 16-10 win at Sixways.
It was Saints’ first victory in five league games, leaving Warriors to reflect on yet another narrow reverse – their sixth by six points or less in their last six fixtures.
Mike Haywood scored Northampton’s try, with James Grayson kicking three penalties and a conversion.
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Ollie Lawrence responded with a touchdown for Worcester, while Jono Lance added a penalty and a conversion.
The opening minutes were frenetic, with both sides keen to take advantage of the dry conditions after months of playing in wet weather.
Northampton were first on the scoreboard when Grayson kicked a penalty after Warriors centre Ryan Mills was yellow-carded for a deliberate obstruction on Cobus Reinach as the scrum-half chased his kick ahead.
The hosts did not take immediate advantage, but Saints continued to infringe – they conceded five penalties in the first 16 minutes and, from the last of them, Lance brought the scores level.
Before Collins could return, Worcester produced a splendid move which nearly brought them the opening try.
From inside their 22, Chris Pennell and Lance neatly combined to send Nick David racing down the left flank. When the wing was challenged he threw an inside pass to Ethan Waller, who looked a likely scorer until Reinach got back to save the day with a try-saving tackle.
Northampton had good chances to regain the lead by taking the points with two kickable penalties, but they opted for driving line-outs and were rewarded with a try from hooker Haywood.
Grayson converted and then added a penalty to give his side a 13-3 half-time lead.
After a lively first half, the third quarter was a dour scoreless one. Worcester were not helped by a malfunctioning line-out, with Saints unable to curtail their habit of giving away needless penalties.
The impressive Reinach was replaced early in the final quarter and Warriors almost immediately roared back into contention. A superb run from Pennell saw him evade a number of defenders before a long pass from Mills sent Lawrence sailing through the defence for a try.
Lance converted before Grayson was off target with a penalty attempt, which left Saints hanging on to a three-point lead with nine minutes remaining.
However, Grayson’s third success saw them to victory despite a late yellow card for Sam Matavesi.
– Press Association
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