Friday 23 March 2012 – 7.45pm
Aviva Premiership #18
The Falcons will have left the Sixways pitch devastated last night after a performance full of heart was not enough to get anything out of Worcester.
The 19-9 defeat leaves us stuck on the bottom with four games left and realistically we now need to beat either Gloucester away or Saracens at home (assuming we defeat Sale at KP on Friday) to have any chance of going to Wasps on the last day of the season able to creep off bottom.
That also assumes the Pests get nothing from their games during the run-in.
It was a frustrating evening for players and fans. Neither side displayed a great deal of quality, but both put on an enjoyable show for the partisans full of thunder and, in some cases, blood. Tries are a rarity at either end in matches involving Worcester and their solid defence and toothless attack showed why.
Penalties were, as expected, key but Jimmy Gopperth missed two, the second being one he would normally score blindfolded with 10 minutes left, and Alex Grove’s try was decisive. The Falcons also defended excellently all game and rarely looked in danger of conceding a try but the Warriors were able to cleverly build an overlap on the left, our team running out of defenders.
Still, as I said in the BBC Radio Newcastle commentary, there is much to be optimistic about for the future. Dean Richards is now on his way, which suggests that even if we are relegated we may be able to keep Mike Ford and John Wells, who have had a big impact on our defence and forwards.
The scrum was superb last night, I can only remember our pack being taken apart once whereas they were regularly on top in the set-piece.
On his debut Peter Stringer played with a speed and intelligence that I for one have not seen from a Falcons scrum-half in may years. His influence ebbed away as the game went on, but then Worcester began to take control in the last half an hour so he had less quality ball to work with.
If we are going to pull off a miracle and get off bottom then Stringer and Gopperth combining to set off the backs will be key, and hopefully the Irishman can pass on some tips to Pasqualin, Pilgrim and Chudley while he is here. As indeed he has said he will.
On a personal note I was glad to get an earlier train to Worcester than I normally would, although despite some tiring early shifts I wasn’t able to get any sleep. Scottish Chris and his pal got the later train and it was delayed – might have been stressful.
It took a long time for me to get a bus from Sixways back to the train station post-match, but finally at 2.30am, but under 24 hours since I had left for the office, it was time to get some sleep. Or not, as the case was. So tired now and not looking forward to the clocks changing tonight.
So, we are all Saints fans today. Northampton v Wasps at Franklin’s Gardens kicks off at 5.45pm, no doubt there will be commentary on the BBC Sport website somewhere for those wishing to lend the Midlanders some moral support. A Wasps win today would 95% guarantee us finishing bottom.
As for us, we just need to keep plugging away, see what happens and if the worst does happen, as seems increasingly likely, make sure that next season is only a one-year break from visiting Sixways, as the Warriors’ time out of the Premiership proved.
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)