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Sale Sharks preparing to attack while Worcester Warriors slip deeper into trouble
IT’S time for Richard Hill to wake up and smell the coffee.
The Warriors boss refuses to countenance his side are in a relegation battle, but that is exactly what their wretched Aviva Premiership form is dragging them in to.
Sale’s hapless beginning to the current campaign allowed an air of complacency to creep in at Worcester. A feeling of ‘we’ll be fine because Sale are going down’.
Seven games into the season, Worcester had racked up a healthy 15 points, while the men from the north-west had a paltry two. Four games later and the margin had increased to 24 points to seven in Worcester’s favour.
However, the Sharks’ expensively-assembled squad possesses far too much talent to be written off before Christmas.
Steve Diamond’s men have started to find some form and were good value for their 33-27 win over Worcester at Salford City Stadium at the end of December.
Following their 26-25 win over London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium yesterday, the Sharks are now menacingly circling the Warriors boat, just seven points away from reeling them in.
Worcester’s comfortable cushion between them and the bottom three of London Welsh, London Irish and Sale is evaporating by the week and Hill needs to do something fast to arrest his side’s slump.
It is almost as though Hill’s Warriors are trying to run before they can walk.
It is commendable that Hill and his coaching staff are trying to implement an expansive, running style of rugby never before employed by a Worcester team.
However, it is nothing short of foolhardy trying to operate such a game-plan behind a pack of forwards that is more often than not on the back foot.
Quite what is going on with Worcester’s pack at the moment is almost too difficult to say.
The line-out is unreliable to say the least and, against Saints on Saturday, they conceded several penalties on their own scrum put-in and were continually out-muscled by the visiting pack — even with a man advantage during the yellow card absences of England duo Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes.
Discipline is another major Achilles’ heel for Worcester.
Neil Best’s sin-binning against his former club at the weekend was Warriors’ 15th yellow card of the season, which averages out at a staggering one-per-game, while Hill’s side are almost always on the wrong side of the penalty count.
When you are struggling to make progress up the table, such indiscipline is a major hindrance and needs to be addressed rapidly if Worcester are to have any hope of salvaging a once-promising campaign.