Chris Pennell left "gutted" by cruel Warriors defeat

Worcester News: CAPTAIN MARVELLOUS: Skipper Jonathan Thomas on the run for Worcester against Leicester. Picture: PAUL JACKSON. 0614516716 CAPTAIN MARVELLOUS: Skipper Jonathan Thomas on the run for Worcester against Leicester. Picture: PAUL JACKSON. 0614516716

THE pained look on Chris Pennell’s face following Warriors’ 23-22 Aviva Premiership defeat to Leicester Tigers at Sixways said it all.

The full-back had a superb game, contributing 17 points in a fine kicking display, but was left "gutted" by the final score.

Warriors were within inches of beating last year’s league champions, but Pennell saw his well-struck penalty go wide off a post.

The 26-year-old said: “I’m gutted not to have come out with the win. It was a great performance from us. We were a couple of soft penalties and me hitting the post away from beating last season’s champions.

“If that was Gloucester or London Irish, we would have been clear winners but Leicester are a quality team and they know how to win these tight matches.”

Warriors director of rugby Dean Ryan was proud of his players’ efforts, but insisted they need more of the same if they are to start picking up the wins they desperately need.

He said: “"It was about courage and about passion. You add a bit of tactical understanding and a great performance by Chris and suddenly you’re competing with one of the top sides in the country.

“People are only just getting an insight of Chris. I struggle to see a full-back in the Premiership, other than one or two who are holding down international places, that represent like that against Leicester.

“He’s a fantastic player, a fantastic bloke and we're lucky to have him. Everyone involved in Worcester should be aware of that."

Warriors travel to Northampton Saints on Saturday (3pm) and Ryan believes his side must replicate last Friday’s performance.

He said: “We’ve got another opportunity to get some more points next weekend and see if we can close the gap.

“We’re trying to build a team who care and, if we’re a strong team, we’ll get performances like that. We’ll target every game and try and match that level of commitment and see what happens.”

On his new role as the side’s goal-kicker, Pennell added: “It’s not something I’ve had to focus on before, but I’ve been working on it a lot more over the last couple of months. That has helped me get more consistent and I am enjoying the challenge.

“We can take a lot of pride going forward. Northampton are a tough side but they will be missing a few internationals so it’s a great time to play them and we will go into the match very confident.”

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