Hill hails fast learners Worcester
September 30, 2011
Saints centre Jon Clarke kicks in behind the Worcester defence during Friday night's clash at Sixways © Getty Images
Worcester boss Richard Hill was full of praise for his players after they put the lessons learned in losing to Harlequins last weekend to good use in battling their way to a 12-3 victory over Northampton Saints at Sixways on Friday night.
The Warriors blew a 12-point lead in their 17-15 reversal at home to Quins, leaving Hill bitterly frustrated with his side's lack of composure. However, they did not make the same mistake this weekend, working their way into a winning position courtesy of four penalties from fly-half Andy Goode and then holding on in the closing stages to arrest a run of three straight defeats.
"That was better. I am happier than I was at this time last week," Hill said. "We were much more precise, we had the same energy, physicality and effort going in as last week but the difference was we were more accurate.
"We have to learn to finish off our chances as you don't get many in the Premiership. There were probably three good scoring chances we failed to convert which would have killed the game off but last week we were 15-3 up against Quins and couldn't close the game out; this week we were 12-3 up against Saints and we held on."
Hill felt that his side's triumph had its foundations in a tremendous effort from the forwards and he was particularly pleased with the performance of makeshift No.8 Chris Jones.
"We had a good solid set-piece tonight, and our restart receptions were very good," he said. "Our scrummage was certainly very powerful and the line-out provided a good platform with Craig Gillies back to his best. They produced some really quality ball for our backs.
"It was a calculated gamble with Chris at No.8 as he has not played there for a while, he has had a crash course this week as it is a completely different position to lock. He was carrying the ball well in the midfield and he enjoyed himself as a second row doesn't get the chance to do that, and he was all over the field."
Meanwhile, Saints boss Jim Mallinder was trying to look on the bright side after seeing his side, who have now lost four on the bounce, leave Sixways empty-handed after only managing one score, a first-half penalty from Stephen Myler, over the course of the 80 minutes. Indeed, he felt that his side had been unfairly handicapped by the sin-binning of prop Brian Mujati on 50 minutes.
"The performance was a lot better than it has been, we did some good things and created some good opportunities and we are disappointed to come way with nothing," he said.
"The beginning of the second half was crucial as they had a good 10-15 minute period and put us under pressure with a couple of good drives.
"To lose Brian Mujati to the sin bin was disappointing and they took the penalties off that. It was a close game with the odd bounce of the ball and the odd refereeing decision making the difference."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall
John Griffiths digs into the distant past to try to establish the identity of an England international whose life is a virtual mystery