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Henry Arundell gets double as London Irish cruise past crisis club Worcester

This was a desperate afternoon for the destitute Worcester, and every bit as emphatic as the scoreline suggests. It is tempting to say it will be a long season for the crisis-hit club but given the uncertainty swirling over their future, they cannot even be afforded that phrase with certainty. Second-half tries from Curtis Langdon and Jamie Shillcock at least ensured they did not head home pointless as well as penniless, but it was a sobering afternoon on which the Warriors found little refuge on the pitch.

There was no little endeavour, a predictably fast start but once Irish weathered the early storm they found holes in the Worcester defence all too easy to exploit, finishing with seven tries, including two for Henry Arundell, whose golden touch does not seem to have deserted him over the summer.

The Warriors can take some heart from the fact that they did not capitulate late on given their lack of preparation: their only pre-season fixture had to be cancelled. But here was a reminder of the reality they face just four months after clinching the Premiership Rugby Cup at the same ground.

They had to play in last season’s kit – this season’s remains with the suppliers – and needed special dispensation to not have numbers on the back of their jerseys. They needed a club sponsor to provide the van to transport their equipment, and question marks remain over whether they can meet the operational cost of hosting Exeter at Sixways next Sunday.

They did, to their credit, begin with a ferocious intensity, all that tension washing off the players’ shoulders as soon as they crossed the whitewash. Ollie Lawrence, fit again after a torrid season last term, was to the fore, busting the Irish line, while Matt Kvesic was equally conspicuous in the first quarter, a period the visitors dominated in terms of territory and possession albeit without ever really threatening the try-line. Irish were comfortable enough in defence, the second row Rob Simmons coming up with a few thunderous hits, and in the ascendancy at the breakdown.

Indeed, Steve Diamond could be heard imploring his side to keep their discipline but they went in at half-time 9-0 down in terms of penalties awarded. Like an overeager boxer short on fitness, there was the sense too that they punched themselves out in the opening 20 minutes. Accordingly, Irish proceeded to score three first-half tries.

The blindside flanker Ben Donnell got the first after a sideways run from Ollie Hassell-Collins released Benhard van van Rensburg, who shipped on to Curtis Rona who gave the final pass. Ben White followed in similar circumstances on the opposite wing after Rona had put Hassell-Collins into space and the left-winger then got in on the act himself, powering over despite the close attention of three Worcester defenders.

Irish had their fourth after the restart when Arundell met Hassell-Collins’s chip on the half-volley with his first touch, barely a minute after coming on, and raced clear to gather and splash over. Will Joseph added try No 5 after pouncing on the loose ball deep into the Worcester 22 before Langdon barged his way over from close range to get the visitors on the board.

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The London Irish replacement Agustin Creevy barrelled over to cap an impressive cameo before Shillcock ran in a second for Worcester late on. The final word went to Arundell, however, and he is likely to have many more this season.

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