26th May, 2019

Defeat fails to overshadow Warriors' Twickenham debut

Worcester Editorial 29th Nov, 2015 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

BEFORE sifting through the wreckage of their crushing defeat at the hands of leaders Saracens it is worth reflecting on the journey Worcester Warriors have taken.

A year ago Warriors were at the less luxurious Billesley Common taking on Moseley. Six months later they were go up against London Scottish at Old Deer Park, dreaming of playing down the road at Twickenham.

Saracens, meanwhile, are no strangers to England’s national stadium and they used their experience to sweep aside Worcester, with Chris Ashton scoring twice in a six-try rout.

But Warriors also had their moments as tighthead prop Joe Rees chalked up a memorable try before skipper GJ Van Velze went over at the death.

And director of rugby Dean Ryan said he enjoyed seeing his side play on the big stage as part of the London Double Header.

“Six months ago we were playing at London Scottish which we drove past to get here, so we are having a ball,” he said.

“We know the defeat is going to hurt the boys, but we have had a big week and the whole city has been behind us.

“We are going to enjoy the fact we have got a huge amount to work on and we are going to go away and come back a little bit better because of this experience.”

Making their first ever appearance at Twickenham, Worcester were keen to make an impression, but it was Saracens who opened the scoring – and in fine fashion.

After beating Sam Betty, Ben Spencer sprinted clear and sent over a perfectly weighted kick to Ashton who stormed over.

Despite the third minute try, which Charlie Hodgson converted, Warriors had plenty of the ball in the opening stages. But they were struggling to turn pressure into points as Tom Heathcote sliced a penalty attempt wide.

Hodgson also missed from the tee, but the Londoners were over the whitewash again on the 22nd minute. Maro Itoji fed Chris Wyles who exploited space down the left before passing inside to Spencer who eased in. Hodgson converted it.

Saracens were enjoying plenty of territory as Warriors continued to get penalised and they almost scored another try as Jackson Wray let the ball slip from his grasp as he tried to touch it down.

Hodgson landed a penalty, but Worcester cancelled it out as Heathcote got his side off the mark on the 34th minute.

The fly half then added another three points, but Saracens finished the first half in the ascendancy as Hodgson dispatched a superb long range kick.

Facing a 20-6 deficit, Warriors would have been hoping for a strong start to the second period, but instead they found themselves with an even bigger mountain to climb.

Wray got the try he deserved when he powered in, with Hodgson adding the extras, before Schalk Brits rolled back the years with a dazzling run.

The 34-year-old darted through a host of flimsy tackles before finding Hodgson who provided the try-scoring pass for Ashton’s second.

Saracens were on top in every department and they then showed their pack power as a driving maul helped Brits over the try-line.

Warriors’ afternoon then went from bad to worse as Phil Dowson saw yellow before Ben Ransom scored his side’s sixth try, which Hodgson converted.

Worcester were getting pummelled, but they at least gave their fans reason to cheer as Rees produced a moment he will probably never forget. With eight minutes left, the prop received a deft offload from Bryce Heem before charging through to score.

Saracens threatened to add another, but it was Warriors who finished on the front foot as Heem used his pace and power to set up a try for Van Velze, which Heathcote converted. 

Worcester Warriors

Pennell 8, Heem 7, Olivier 6, Mills 6, Vuna 5 (Howard 60, 5), Heathcote 5, Arr 6 (Mulchrone 67, 5), Leleimefaga 5 (Rapava Ruskin 53, 5), Annett 6 (Bredvadze 53, 5), Schonert 6 (Rees 47, 7), O’Callaghan 6 (Cavubati 58, 5), Barry 6, Dowson 5, Betty 5 (Cox 58, 5), Van Velze © 6

Replacements not used: Lamb

Observer star man: Chris Pennell – the full back looked like a player who deserved more outings at Twickenham. He was solid under the high ball and tackled hard all afternoon.

Attendance: 42,680

 

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