Worcester hammer Newcastle 39-5 even as off-field problems increase; Bristol take charge of Gallagher Premiership; Owen Farrell wins it for Saracens with Gloucester’s final kick of the game; Three yellow cards fall on Northampton against Leicester
Last update: 09/24/22 8:13 p.m.
Worcester Warriors director of rugby Steve Diamond revealed his players held a vote on Friday on whether to go ahead with Saturday’s game against Newcastle Falcons.
The Sixways club risk being suspended from all competitions on Monday unless they can convince the Rugby Football Union that they have a credible financial plan to continue.
It comes after weeks of turmoil surrounding an unpaid £6million debt to HM Revenue and Customs which is set to force them into administration, with Worcester saddled with debts totaling more than £25million.
The Worcester players put aside problems off the pitch with a brilliant 39-5 five-try thrashing against hapless Newcastle, with wingers Alex Hearle and Duhan van der Merwe, scrum-half Gareth Simpson, substitute flanker Matt Kvesic and lock Joe Batley all crossing.
Fly-half Billy Searle added the rest of Worcester’s points with the boot.
“I gave them the option not to play because it’s a big risk if we’re suspended on Monday, but they told a man that their loyalty to the club determined them to play,” Diamond said.
“Staff here volunteer because they’re unpaid and it shows we have a truly passionate workforce who care about their jobs and care about Worcester.
“That’s what I would look at if I was an investor.”
Bristol take the lead in the Gallagher Premiership
Pat Lam said he was “happy but not satisfied” after his Bristol side took charge of the Gallagher Premiership.
Bristol’s 40-36 victory over the London Irish at Ashton Gate meant it was the first time since 1999 that they had won their first three games of a Premiership season.
But they had to work hard for it in an 11-try thriller as the Irish twice came close to eliminating 16-point deficits.
“We got off to a bad start at 10-0 but took a decisive lead at half-time,” Bristol director of rugby Lam said.
“We scored some good tries, and we said that was the solution for the second half, but we brought them (the Irish) back into the game.
“As I keep saying every week, five points are on offer, and the first and third rounds at home we got the maximum points, but we’re still not buzzing on the four cylinders at the moment.
“There are good things in it, but it’s also a mental game and I would say we weren’t there as much as we were in the (opening) game at Bath.
“I’m happy but not satisfied, although we got five points, which is the most important thing.”
Farrell ‘lives for’ winning kicks
Mark McCall said Owen Farrell ‘lives for these moments’ after watching the Saracens captain launch back-to-back conversions in a dramatic 41-39 Gallagher Premiership win over Gloucester.
Trailing by 12 points going into the final 10 minutes, Saracens completed the second fightback of a rollercoaster clash at StoneX Stadium when replacement hooker Tom Woolstencroft completed two tries on lineouts.
Farrell needed to land both conversions from similar positions five yards from the touchline to secure victory and the England fly-half duly delivered, the second falling between the posts in the final act of the match.
“I’m not sure we’d prefer anyone else kicking. He’s done it time and time again,” said Saracens director of rugby McCall.
“He lives for those moments. To have that competitive spirit on the pitch at this stage of the game is exactly what you want.”
Northampton succumbs to Leicester
Three yellow cards sabotaged Northampton in a 41-21 loss to rivals Leicester.
The Saints started strong. Tries from Alex Mitchell and Tommy Freeman in the opening 20 minutes gave them an early advantage, although there were just four points at half-time after Freddie Steward scored.
A Saints third try of the afternoon from Alex Coles restored their 11-point lead, but Guy Porter responded quickly for the Tigers and the hosts began to struggle.
Poor discipline cost them dearly, with three players given yellow cards and two tries from Steward coupled with scoring from George Martin and Chris Ashton eventually saw the visitors seal an important victory.
The hosts were comfortably the better team for the first 50 minutes, but Northampton’s Phil Dowson believes pressure from their opponents led to errors and yellow cards for Mitchell, Emmanuel Iyogun and Juarno Augustus.
“When you put a team under pressure they will inflict penalties and if you inflict enough penalties you get yellow cards,” he said.
“We start doing things that you wouldn’t necessarily do, so pressure will lead to bad discipline, bad discipline will lead to punishment and I think I saw that today.”