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Bath 32 Worcester Warriors 20
WHILE Warriors have suffered many a kick in the teeth during this disastrous campaign, it has been their kicks at the posts that have caused the most suffering.
In the last two games alone, Worcester’s wayward marksmen have spurned 23 points through missed shots at goal. This has been a recurring theme throughout the season.
Had Ryan Lamb and Chris Pennell managed to slot the five chances that went begging against Bath, that would have given Warriors an extra 13 points. Given they were beaten by 12, this highlights just how costly such profligacy has been.
It is a particularly galling statistic when you consider that only one of the five would have been considered a tough chance.
The previous week, Worcester rallied late in the game but had ultimately given themselves too much to do as they went down 38-33 at home to Exeter. In this game, the kickers missed a potential 10 points.
So, had all of those kicks sailed between the uprights, Warriors would have taken nine points from their last two games and would arguably be sitting above Newcastle in the table going into the final two rounds of the Aviva Premiership.
While the intricacies of fly-half play are vastly more complex than simply hoofing a ball over a crossbar, it is difficult to argue that this wastefulness has not been a massive part of Warriors’ demise this term.
That brings me to the subject of Andy Goode. The former England fly-half and his understudy Joe Carlisle quit Worcester for Wasps last summer and were replaced at Sixways by Paul Warwick and Ignacio Mieres.
The two newcomers have been such resounding flops that Dean Ryan, who merely inherited rather than recruited them, was forced to look elsewhere for a play-maker, which saw him reunited mid-season with Lamb.
Veteran Goode is much-maligned in rugby circles for his portly appearance and receding mane, but he certainly knows how to kick goals.
Although the stand-off may not bring as much as Lamb in terms of play-making ability, vision and flare, he is a reliable kicker. In fact, I’d go as far as saying if Warriors had kept Goode this season, they wouldn’t be bottom of the league now.
And that is the sickener for Warriors fans as they face up to the looming prospect of relegation. The simple truth is Worcester aren’t the worst side in the division.
I know, looking at the league table, that sounds a flimsy argument but, in any other season, a side showing similar form to Newcastle would already be dead and buried. Everyone connected with the Falcons must be thanking their lucky stars they have had Worcester as a relegation safety net this term.
However, if I was a Tynesider, I wouldn’t be too complacent just yet, such is the paucity of talent in their squad I’d wager a fair amount that, if Warriors do go down this term, they will trade places with Falcons the year after.
At a glance
8m: Drauniniu try 0-5 20m: Young try 5-5 21m: Ford con 7-5 24m: Agulla try 12-5 25m: Ford con 14-5 40m: Abendanon try 19-5 47m: Ford pen 22-5 56m: Symons try 22-10 57m: Pennell con 22-12 60m: Pennell pen 22-15 63m: Henson pen 25-15 65m: Pennell try 25-20 77m: Banahan try 30-20 78m: Ford con 32-20