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Smiling assassin is big loss to Warriors scrum
THE cornerstone of any successful side is a top quality tighthead prop and Worcester Warriors are certainly missing their Tongan titan Tevita Taumoepeau.
Without meaning any disrespect to John Andress, he isn’t of the same calibre as the veteran scrummager, who is currently sidelined with a nerve issue in his neck that is restricting the mobility in his hand.
When Warriors have Taumoepeau in their side, there is a calm assurance about the team when it comes to scrum time. The seven other forwards know the scrum won’t be going backwards when their smiling assassin is in the number three jersey.
Summer recruit Andress is a promising prospect, but he’s not the finished article yet and has a habit of giving away penalties, both on the floor and in the set-pieces.
In fairness to head coach Richard Hill, when he signed Andress he saw the young prop as back-up to Taumoepeau, but the Tongan’s injury problems have thrust the understudy into the first-team limelight and he has suffered a little with stage-fright. Taumoepeau doesn’t seem set to return to action any time soon, so Hill will keep faith with Andress.
The front-rower, however, is also under pressure for his position from up-and-coming James Currie, who made an instant impact against Gloucester, coming off the bench to score the try that got his side right back into the match.
That game ultimately ended in a depressingly familiar fashion and Warriors’ scrum was again the villain of the set-piece.
With nothing to lose, Gloucester went hell for leather at Worcester’s put-in and replacements Ceri Jones and Ollie Hayes were forced to stand up with referee JP Doyle making the harsh call to penalise the hosts when both sides appeared guilty of infringing.
Freddie Burns knocked over the penalty to snatch a draw and Worcester were left to reflect on another wasted opportunity to win.
Yet again, it was all so avoidable. Andy Goode had kicked Warriors into a 16-13 lead with less than 30 seconds to go, so all the hosts had to do was gather the re-start, run the clock down and boot the ball out.
They failed to catch the kick, though, which was bad enough, but they should have had a reprieve as Gloucester subsequently knocked-on to hand Worcester the put in.
With the clock on zero, the ball should have flown out the back of the scrum and been launched into touch, but the visitors forced the penalty as Worcester dawdled and, as they say, the rest is history.