‘SOMETIMES you just have to roll your sleeves up and get through it’ – were the words of Carl Hogg after his side won a forgettable fixture played out in miserable conditions at Sixways.
With the rain failing to relent and the error count escalating, the frustration was clear to see on players’ faces.
However, after 78 largely uneventful minutes, Warriors dug deep and produced one of the highlights of the match.
Ben Howard, who had worked tirelessly all match, collected Ravai Fatiaki’s inside pass before weaving his way over the whitewash for a well-deserved try.
Ryan Lamb, who had landed four penalties in the first half, then fired home the extras to get their European Challenge Cup campaign off to winning start.
Hogg said: “In a game which wasn’t free-flowing and wasn’t a magnificent spectacle by any shape or form I thought the level of courage and desire was outstanding.
“I don’t think we were anywhere close to playing our A game, but sometimes you have just got to roll your sleeves up and work your way through it. And we achieved that.
“There were a lot of errors and some of those were to do with the conditions, but we showed great character to win it in the end.”
The tragic events in Paris the night before the game led to a sombre atmosphere inside Sixways and the match did little to brighten people’s moods.
Warriors did get off to the brighter start, though, and quickly moved into a 6-0 lead thanks to two penalties from Lamb.
Charlie Bouldoire got one back, but this was soon cancelled out as a strong scrum led to a penalty which Lamb slotted home to make it 9-3.
Worcester’s forwards were on top in the early stages, but mistakes were costing them as Matt Cox and Fatiaki notably struggled to keep hold of the slippery ball.
Referee Dudley Phillips was at the heart of the action as he penalised both sides at regular intervals.
This did allow Bouldoire and Lamb with kickable opportunities and it was the Warriors fly half who was taking them. After Bouldoire went wide, Lamb split the uprights with the last kick of the half.
With a 12-3 lead and with a man advantage after Maxime Gau saw yellow, the hosts would have been looking to kick on and they came close to scoring at the start of the second period.
Tevita Cavubati pounced on a mistake and released Fatiaki who was stopped metres from the line, but a wild crossfield kick from Lamb ended the chance.
Bouldoire’s woes continued from the tee and his replacement, Fabian Fortassin, did not do any better as he missed touch on three occasions.
La Rochelle’s pack were starting to gain the upper-hand in the scrum as Warriors were reduced to 14 men, with Gareth Milasinovic getting sin-binned less than two minutes into his debut.
But Worcester’s defence held firm as Carl Kirwan, making his first appearing for the club, tackled bravely throughout.
The second half looks set to end pointless, but with two minutes remaining Howard’s efforts to light up a dull encounter were rewarded with a stunning late try, which Lamb converted.
Warriors: Howard 8, Biggs 5 (Humphreys 67, 5), Stelling 5, Fatiaki 5, Hammond 6, Lamb 6, Mulchrone 5 (Bruzulier 50, 6); Bower 7, Sowrey 5 (Bregvadze 54, 5), Rees 6 (Milasinovich 54, 5), Cavubati 6, O’Shea 6 (Sanderson 67, 5), Betty 6, Kirwan 7, Cox 6
Replacements not used: Daniels, Annett, Mills
Observer star man: Ben Howard – the full back seemed determined to light up what was a dour encounter with his direct runs from deep and capped off a tirelessly display with a superb late try.