Well the season was about to begin with the 3hour trek to
Otley, which on paper should have been a relatively straightforward fixture,
as time will tell how wrong can your expectations be!
We all arrived at Sixways full of smiles at the prospect of the rugby season finally getting underway, no more shopping, no more gardening on a Saturday it was now time for RUGBY. Kath set us off in the right mood with a Bucks Fizz and a toast the team.
The party like atmosphere on the bus was electric, even if the seating was abysmal anyone over 5ft 2ins was in deep trouble!
After the second longest bus journey of the season we all
transferred en masse to the friendly bar at Otley. Always warm and
The players took to the field with great cheers from the visiting fans (us) looking relaxed and confident.
Otley got the game underway with Steve Binns dropping out long to Werner Swanepoel, who quickly passed out to Richard Bates, charging forward, making a good 10 meters. The ruck was set, ball recycled and all looked great into the next 2/3 phases to establish a platform to launch our first attack. "WRONG"!!!
|Smiley takes from the kick-off and sets off with Richard bates deep into the chasing Otley Forwards
|Otley had different ideas, the ball was lost in a ruck, because we did not clear it out and make sure the ball was retained. The ball was recycled left and found the big South Sea Islander Wasaile Sovatabua (don't try saying that quickly) who was well covered by Darren O'Leary, or should have been. O'Leary continued in the commitment he has shown since joining Worcester, Sovatabua just waltzed passed him as if he did not exist apart from a ladylike flapping of arms waving him "Bon Voyage" as he sailed serenely past him!!!
This initial break set the scene for
the next 10 minutes of the game with Otley throwing
everything at The Warriors including fists, boots and long raking fingers.
Unfortunately for the game the Worcester players were induced into a
retaliatory exercise putting them on the back foot and when retaliating you
will always lose. This is where the referee should have done his job
properly in the first 10 minutes. He is there to keep order and ensure there
is no NEED for retaliation. Finally an Otley forward was given a 10 minute
cooling down period after kicking a prone player on the ground this should
have resulted in a red card, at least a final warning to the Otley Captain.
It did not and the subsequent chain of events, which marred an otherwise
fascinating game, speak for themselves.
Back to what we came to watch rugby. Otley were the team causing the problems on several occasions they opened up the Warriors defence. First wide on the left a break left the Otley winger free, only a desperate tackle from Chris Garrard saved a certain try. The Warriors handling, passing and lines were atrocious, balls were being passed into fresh air time and time again. Look at the body positions above Duncan Murray is not in the right position or can run the lines from his body shape. Once again Otley turned over sloppy ball and broke through Mr O'Leary with consummate ease, he did not even turn and chase. Once again Crystal covering from the opposite wing managed to catch and bundle him into touch. It could so easily have been 21 : 0 after 10 minutes
The Otley forwards were in complete control of the game
their power and organisation in the maul was just too much for the
desperately defending Warriors forwards.
The Warriors having been kicked from their complacency started to put some phases of rugby together only to be denied the fast ball by some nefarious tactics. The referee finally stepped in to award a penalty some 45 meters out, up stepped the calmest man on the field and hit an absolute peach which passed through the uprights with at least another 20 meters of distance. The Warriors were on the board
We then had one of those mesmeric moments of Duncan "Rubber Legs" Roke, a multi-phased passage of play out of defence saw Duncan receive a ball on his own 22, he then proceeded to run and weave through what seemed the whole of the Otley team finally touching down mid-way between post and touch. Once again Tommy Hayes calmly converted the try to finally take the lead 7 : 10.
Now we once again had the return of the fist and boot at one stage Mark Gabey, was pinned to the floor by four players who took turns in facial rearrangement. No flag from the touch judge 10 meters away or a warning from the ref to the two captains, once again a red card would not have been inappropriate
Yet another penalty conceded
by Otley was duly converted to give Worcester a 7 : 13 lead
These incidents were ruining the game and the blame lay clearly at the feet of three people, The referee and the two captains.
Otley were still playing by far the better, more cohesive rugby, the partnership of Binns and Scully was working like a well tuned Jaguar. Scully was influential around the mauls driving and directing his forwards, The Warriors struggled but did not let them pass. It was to their credit that even playing badly they were able to keep out this very powerful pack of 8 forwards
It seemed that every time The Warriors were into their
stride a piece of skulduggery would appear and a fight/scuffle would ensue,
all incidents throughout the game occurred when Otley were defending.
Finally out came the yellow card, Worcester had been awarded yet another
penalty for foul play and Craig Gillies responded and ended up on the bench
for 10 minutes and the penalty reversed. With The Warriors attacking, taking
a lineout the referee again awarded a penalty for foul play against Otley
and the whole 16 forwards erupted into a mass brawl leaving the referee no
option but to use the red card and off went Chris Hall displaying some
alarming facial displacement.
Down now to 13 men, the Otley forwards attacked again causing Worcester to concede two very kickable penalties. Up stepped Binns and the scores were level at 13 : 13
Now down to 13 men at the start of the second half, it was
going to be an uphill task to take the game.
Otley took this numerical advantage, scoring a nicely worked try, it should and could have been stopped. The try was converted by Binns for a 20 : 13 Lead.
Worcester were extremely lucky not to concede another try as an outrageous pass fell into no-mans land with three Otley backs loose and away if they could get the ball. In came Crystal at full tilt took the ball off his toes and broke through himself. he raced away from his own 22 to the Otley 22, put in a great chip. However the Otley defence just managed to beat him to it and put the ball out behind the try line. 5 meter scrum? No a 22 dropout!!
It was now nip and tuck, with both sides attacking trying
to score those vital points.
The Otley forwards again started to use their numerical supremacy driving the Worcester forwards backwards up to their own try line on three concerted efforts. The Warriors defence stood firm forcing the Otley 8 to infringe in their eagerness or spin the ball wide where they were hit hard by the defending midfield and the danger was snuffled out without conceding one penalty.
Even playing the whole of the second half with only 14 men
the superior fitness finally started to come through and Worcester were on
the attack. Led from the front by some powerful breaks from Tommy Hayes, he
was one of only two Worcester players having a half decent game, the other
once again was Mark Gabey.
Under enormous pressure the Otley defence once again turned to illegal tactics and were duly punished. Two more penalties were calmly converted by Tommy Hayes to take the score to 20 : 19 his own personal contribution of 14 points. The scene was now set for grand finale and winner takes all.
Firstly Otley went on the attack again using the rolling
maul, making masses of ground but failed to score.
Then back came Worcester running hard and fast at the ever weakening Otley defence. Once again they had to infringe to stop another attack and Worcester were awarded a very kickable penalty, after 5 from 5 Tommy curled the ball just wide of the right hand post. A minute later yet another penalty awarded for slowing the ball down, this time some 55 meters out inside Worcester's own half. Full of confidence Up came Tommy and again pushed just wide of the left-hand post still with plenty of distance left on the ball. Was this going to be our seasonal bad game, it certainly looked like it!!
We were now 2 minutes into injury time with the clock suddenly clicking faster by the second.
Cometh the hour cometh the man, in the shape of the
massively influential Ben Daly, since coming on for the despatched Chris
Hall he had had a good game.
Yet again The Warriors attacked right in front of the posts and this time the Otley forwards dared not give away another penalty. This enabled Worcester to build up the moves, pushing back the defence. A fast ball to Tommy Hayes saw him power through the smallest of gaps and push out a great pass to the storming Ben Daly, the half gap was there and through he went bouncing players either side of him, surged over the line and ran in closer to the posts.
We were then to see the most cynical and foul piece of play in the whole game. After the ball was grounded an Otley defender ran in and kicked Daly in the head whilst lying on the floor. Daly was badly injured and unable to continue. Result from the referee nothing not a word. To say this was inconsistent with his earlier decision to despatch Hall is an understatement
1. Probably the worst game Worcester has played in the last 5 years.
2. The handling and understanding between players beg the question "what have they been doing for the last 8 weeks training?"
3. Werner is not match fit, but that will come, and it showed as the ball was too slow to be recycled.
4. The front 5 were just not at the party apart from Mark Gabey
5. Christian Evans plays well enough at 8 but he is not an 8 and it shows when under pressure. He is a very dynamic 6!
6. Duncan Murray and David Officer just did not fire, creating not one opportunity all day. Ben Hinshelwood's inclusion made a significant difference. Unless we can get the inside center channel working then Tommy Hayes will be wasted.
7. On the wing it has to be asked have we another Winston Stanley, a Ben Clarke or a Jones, Daren O'Leary a man with a known pedigree is just not interested, he may be in the cash, my ticket fees, but he is not interested in being in the game either in attack or defence. He has done nothing in any game he has played apart from miss tackles and leak tries. Young Tom Richardson has more steel then a man twice his size.
8. Defence when the chips were down was fantastic, once again they were attacked using the rolling/driving maul and defended every one of them.
9. In Tommy Hayes we have a found a star, an outstanding game considering all around him was disintegrating. He was an attacking force of "1"
10. Ben Daly, when he came on had a massive game as did Mark Gabey the whole game.
Every season we seem to pull out one of these terrible displays, who can remember Moseley at Moseley, Coventry at Sixways and last year Orrell at Orrell and in every other case but today we LOST. Today we were able to play badly and come out with a win. Now it needs a good weeks training to remove the gremlins and get back to the form shown against Wasps, before game No2 next week.