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Aviva Premiership: James O'Connor stars in London Irish's 22-9 defeat of Worcester
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James O'Connor scored all of London Irish's points as they defeated Worcester 22-9 to win the battle of the bottom two sides in the Aviva Premiership at the Madejski Stadium.
Australian ace O'Connor contributed a try, a conversion and five penalties as Irish produced a strong second-half performance to claim the win and put a 14-point gap between themselves and the rock-bottom Warriors, whose hopes of avoiding relegation now look all but over.
Worcester were firmly in contention at 6-6 at the interval but they were swept aside after the break to crash to a 12th successive defeat this season, with their points coming from three Chris Pennell penalties.
Irish enjoyed much the better of the opening 10 minutes but were unable to translate that into points with O'Connor missing an early penalty attempt.
However, with basic errors from the Warriors preventing them from getting out of their own half, the hosts were able to build up considerable pressure and they were rewarded when O'Connor put them ahead with an 11th-minute penalty.
Worcester hit back soon after though and, after a couple of line-out drives put Irish on the back foot and led to a Worcester penalty, Pennell successfully bisected the posts to make it 3-3.
O'Connor then missed another kick and, against the run of play, Pennell kicked his second penalty to put Worcester ahead.
Level at the break
Their lead lasted just six minutes before O'Connor drew the teams level just before half-time, and Worcester would never be in front again.
A loss of possession by Ravai Fatiaki and an excellent kick from Tomas O'Leary gave Irish early impetus at the start of the second half and they took a 9-6 lead when O'Connor drilled over his third penalty of the match.
The Exiles pack then became the dominant force with the visitors' eight conceding another penalty, which allowed O'Connor to kick his fourth goal and increase the gap between the teams.
With half an hour remaining, Worcester brought on Jonny Arr at scrum-half in place of the disappointing Jeremy Su'a in an attempt to provide more pace to their game.
Pennell was narrowly short with a long-range penalty before Irish produced another formidable line-out drive. The Warriors dragged it down and, in a double blow for the visitors, Leonardo Senatore was yellow-carded before O'Connor slotted over his fifth penalty.
With 20 minutes remaining, the game was up for Worcester with O'Connor's score putting the game beyond them. Irish had battered the visitors' defence which gave O'Connor the space to race outside Josh Drauniniu for the only try of the match, which the full-back also converted.
Pennell kicked his third penalty as Worcester saved their best period of pressure for the last 10 minutes but, even when Irish replacement prop Jamie Hagan saw yellow for repeated scrummage offences, the Warriors could not get any closer as they slumped to yet another loss.
Aviva Premiership Table
|Friday 5th September|
|19:45||Northampton vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 6th September|
|14:00||Sale vs Bath|
|14:00||Saracens vs Wasps|
|15:00||Leicester vs Newcastle|
|16:30||London Irish vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 7th September|
|14:00||London Welsh vs Exeter|
|Friday 12th September|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Saracens|
|Saturday 13th September|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Sale|
|15:00||Bath vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Exeter vs Leicester|
|Sunday 14th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Northampton|
|15:00||Newcastle vs London Irish|
|Friday 19th September|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Exeter|
|Saturday 20th September|
|14:00||Sale vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Saracens|
|15:15||Bath vs Leicester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|14:00||Newcastle vs Northampton|
|Friday 26th September|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 27th September|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Sale|
|15:15||Northampton vs Bath|
|Sunday 28th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Newcastle|
|14:00||Exeter vs Harlequins|
|Friday 3rd October|
|19:45||Bath vs Saracens|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com