Sleightholme scores FOUR as Saints demolish Worcester at Sixways

Ollie Sleightholme grabbed a fantastic four as Saints secured a crushing 62-14 win against Worcester Warriors at Sixways on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, 27th March 2021, 6:11 pm
Ollie Sleightholme scored four times at Sixways (pictures: Peter Short)

Chris Boyd's side scored several eye-catching tries as they raced to a bonus-point Gallagher Premiership win against the league's basement side.

Worcester had been well in the game just before the break and would have felt they should have been ahead as they wasted a plethora of chances to score when 8-7 down.

But Sleightholme's fantastic finish just before the break gave Saints some much-needed breathing space and they built on it with a fine second-half showing.

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Sleightholme's second top-drawer effort bagged the bonus point and Worcester's chances of getting anything from the game were hampered by a red card for an illegal clear-out by Chris Ashton, who had earlier scored against his former club.

A penalty try and efforts from George Furbank, Alex Mitchell, Piers Francis and David Ribbans added to Sleightholme's quartet of scores.

The big win was made even more impressive by the fact Saints did it all despite being hit by injury blows before and during the game.

Dan Biggar was forced to withdraw from the team due to a small injury picked up while kicking in training, giving James Grayson the chance to start his third successive game at 10.

Worcester had been on the front foot from the off, but Saints held firm and after turning the ball over in their own 22, they worked their way upfield.

Some tidy interplay between Nick Isiekwe and Mitchell resulted in the onrushing Furbank slicing through the Warriors defence to score.

Grayson missed the conversion from out wide and Worcester tried to summon an immediate response, with Perry Humphreys being held up superbly by Isiekwe over the line.

Some good work from Mitchell helped Saints get the ball back and they worked their way into the Worcester 22 superbly before being met with some strong Warriors defending.

Saints soon had to do some defending of their own to stop the rampaging Matt Kvesic, but they couldn't hold out for long as Ashton scored in the corner.

Billy Searle converted well in windy conditions and Saints, who had lost Rory Hutchinson to injury in the build-up to the score, were 7-5 down with 20 minutes gone.

Saints tried to respond but they were lacking ideas in the opposition half, with Worcester coping comfortably with what was thrown at them.

However, Saints soon used a Worcester scrum to good effect, winning a penalty that Grayson notched to put his team back in front.

But the away side were being hit by regular injury issues and Furbank was forced off with what appeared to be a leg injury, forcing Tommy Freeman into the action.

Worcester were quickly applying the pressure, but Saints won a penalty on their own line to allow them to breathe again.

Ashton thought he'd scored soon after as he chased a grubber kick, but he could only ground it inches past the in-goal area.

Saints were having real trouble dealing with Worcester runners, with linebreaks galore, especially from England centre Ollie Lawrence.

The Warriors were ruing being a point down as half-time approached but it was to get worse for them as Saints landed a sucker punch.

Mitchell and Api Ratuniyarawa did well in the build-up and when the ball went wide to Sleightholme, the wing slithered past some wannabe defenders and scored superbly.

Grayson notched the conversion tidily from the touchline and Saints headed in with a 15-7 lead that they may have struggled to believe.

But they were soon extending it in the second half, scoring after just two minutes as a sensational move involving Tom Collins, Freeman and Mitchell ended with the scrum-half picking up a magical Freeman kick to score.

Grayson again converted to make it 22-7 and Saints were just one try away from a bonus point.

Worcester's frustration was growing and they were soon down to 14 men as Ashton was sent off for an illegal clear-out on Freeman.

And Saints soon made him pay as Sleightholme scooted around the home defence to deliver another ruthless finish that secured the bonus point.

Grayson saw his conversion rebound off the right post, but Saints were 27-7 up with 26 minutes to go, knowing that if they managed the game properly they would cruise to a win.

Teimana Harrison was yellow carded for a high tackle to level the numbers up but Saints did some great work at the scrum to win a penalty and deny Worcester an attacking chance.

And Saints soon notched their fifth try as Collins charged down an attempted clearance kick before Freeman and Grayson combined to send Francis over for the score.

Grayson kicked to make it 34-7 before Saints lost yet another back as centre Francis was forced off with concussion, meaning scrum-half Tom James came on.

But the momentum was still with the away side, who were awarded a penalty try after a deliberate knock-on from Francois Venter prevented a try out wide.

Venter was yellow carded and Saints just kept scoring, with Ribbans the next to dot down as Fraser Dingwall worked a way through and offloaded well.

Grayson converted and there were still nine minutes of the match remaining as the pain continued to pile on Worcester.

Sleightholme completed his hat-trick after great work from Freeman and James.

And James then played his part again to allow Sleightholme to take his personal tally to four tries.

Grayson was still doing the business with the boot to extend the lead to 62-7, but Worcester had the final say as Chris Pennell went over and Finn Smith converted.

Worcester Warriors: Pennell; Ashton, Lawrence, Beck, Humphreys (Venter 46); Searle (Smith 50), Hougaard; Waller, Annett (Miller 72), Schonert (van Dyk 57); A Kitchener, Clegg; Hill (c), Kvesic, Batley.

Saints: Furbank (Freeman 29); Collins, Hutchinson (Dingwall 19), Francis (James 63), Sleightholme; Grayson, Mitchell; Waller (c) (Auterac 56), Matavesi (Haywood 62), Painter (Hill 56); Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa (Coles 56); Isiekwe, Wood (Adendorff 64), Harrison.

Referee: Andrew Jackson