Aviva Premiership: Leicester Tigers beat Worcester Warriors 23-22
Champions Leicester were given a fright in a 23-22 Aviva Premiership victory over Worcester on Friday night.
Last Updated: 07/02/14 10:22pm
The Tigers needed two tries from impressive wing Vereniki Goneva and 10 points from the boot of Toby Flood for their 23-22 victory.
Some superb goal-kicking from Worcester full-back Chris Pennell kept the Warriors in contention throughout - he slotted five penalties from six attempts and converted the hosts' only try, scored by Josh Drauniniu.
Worcester were unrecognisable from last week's dismal performance in a 42-3 home loss to Exeter. They were second best in the scrum, but matched the Tigers in every other department in a thrilling encounter.
Mike Williams and James Percival were at the forefront of a huge effort from their pack, with David Lemi, Drauniniu and Pennell all running with purpose to trouble the visitors' defence.
Ed Slater and Ben Youngs were released from the England squad to play for Leicester, while the home team were able to include Argentina hooker Agustin Creevy, who returned after a three-month injury lay-off.
Worcester made a poor start, giving away a try after only four minutes. They won a line-out in the opposition half but Paul Warwick's long pass was easily picked off by Goneva, who had little difficulty in running 55 metres for the try which Flood converted.
Leicester could have easily extended that lead when Goneva and Thomas Waldrom split the home defence, but Logovi'i Mulipola knocked on five metres from the try line.
Worcester had their first chance for points after 15 minutes, and Pennell duly obliged by kicking a penalty. Minutes later the full-back was again on target with an excellent kick from the halfway line.
When the Tigers were penalised at a line-out, Pennell was again called upon and another splendid strike put his side in front.
Leicester responded in style to regain the lead. Mulipola ran strongly into the Worcester defence and, when the ball was recycled, Blaine Scully showed expertise to send Goneva over for his second try.
Flood converted, but Worcester remained in contention with a fourth penalty from Pennell.
The visitors declined to take a kickable penalty in favour of a more attacking option and should have scored, but Anthony Allen elected to go alone when there was a clear overlap outside him. However, the Warriors conceded another penalty, from which Flood made no mistake.
With the last kick of the first half, a Pennell penalty rebounded back off a post to leave Leicester with a 17-12 half-time advantage.
After the interval, Flood badly mis-hit a long-range penalty attempt before Worcester scored their first try.
Drauniniu breached the visitors' defence only to be hauled down by an excellent tackle from Matthew Tait, but Worcester retained possession. Their pack battered the Leicester line before the ball was moved wide for Drauniniu to force his way over for the try, which Pennell converted from the touchline.
Flood's second penalty gave a Leicester 20-19 lead at the end of the third quarter before he and Pennell exchanged penalties to set up a grandstand finish, but Leicester had the experience to control the dying minutes.