Worcester Wanderers 18 pts Hereford 7.

MIDLANDS One West high-fliers Worcester were fortunate to enjoy a slender single-point half-time advantage against much-changed Hereford before pulling away in the second period.

Injuries saw Charlie Loughman and James Parker both playing out of position in the back row but the visitors maintained constant pressure on the Worcester line for the first 25 minutes.

But with Worcester well-drilled in defence, the only scoring chances were a Loughman penalty, which rebounded from an upright, and a good passing movement which ended with Finn Ralph forced into touch.

On 36 minutes, Worcester took the lead when Tom Biggs kicked a penalty and this was followed by an unconverted Ollie Burton try.

Hereford hit back - Ben Osborne fed the pack and the forwards led by Alex Hickinbotham, Ali McColl and Jamie Bullock set up several rucks which culminated with Bullock crashing over for a try, which Loughman converted.

The second period belonged to Worcester, with the Hereford defence holding out against a series of determined attacks.

Eventually, Biggs added a second penalty goal but Hereford continued to hold out until two late blows.

With just 15 minutes to go, debutant full-back Nat Thomas was shown a yellow and, minutes later, another debutant Matt Booton received a knee injury, leading to uncontested scrums and the Wyesiders being reduced to 13 men. Worcester exploited the extra men and Sam Carter touched down in the corner for Biggs to add the extra points.

Hereford, with several players playing out of position, can count themselves unlucky not to get even a losing bonus point. Hickinbotham had his best senior game yet, while young prop Parker put in a man-of-the-match performance in the back row.