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Warriors losing sleep from late-late shows
10:30am Friday 1st March 2013 in Warriors
IF Aviva Premiership matches only lasted 79 minutes, Warriors would be within two points of the Heineken Cup qualification places.
Worcester head coach Richard Hill admits his side’s continued inability to close out games, alongside some poor calls at crucial moments from the officials, are driving him to distraction.
After witnessing the agonising late defeats to Leicester and Bath – as well as the 16-16 draw with Gloucester at Sixways – I thought there were no other ways left for Worcester to contrive a defeat from the jaws of victory.
Yet, in the rematch with Gloucester and the hosts 23-22 down and pinned in their own ‘22’ with just 38 seconds on the clock, Hill’s men managed to conjure up a defeat even after the game appeared to have ended.
Ryan Mills’ knock-on in overtime should have brought the final whistle, but David Rose’s touch judge signalled foul play – a trip by Errie Claassens on Jonny May – and after a lengthy conversation with TMO Trevor Fisher, a match-turning penalty try was awarded. A remarkable turn of events, even by Worcester’s standards of profligacy.
That made it four matches this season where Warriors had gone from a winning position to having to make do with a losing bonus point over the course of the game’s final play.
Added to that, Hill firmly believes his side should have been awarded what were likely to have been match-winning penalties in the final seconds of the games at Wasps and Harlequins, so the Aviva Premiership table could easily have a very different complexion to it had fortune favoured Warriors a fraction more.
Although merely a hypothetical situation and admitting that some of Worcester’s recent performances have in no way merited a place at European rugby’s top table, you can understand Hill’s frustrations.
Even disregarding the Sixways chief’s claims in relation to the Wasps and Quins matches, a revised table to include the 11 points Warriors have had snatched away this term would no doubt have fans pretty pleased with this year’s progress.
However, as it is, there is an all-too-familiar sense of doom and gloom around the club at the moment.
Hill said: “There have been six instances this year where we have lost on the last play of the game – it is tough for the players to take, but we’ve gone beyond feeling sorry for ourselves now.
“We have to make sure we don’t get ourselves into those positions.
“You look back at various incidents during the game and realise we could have done things differently so that we weren’t relying on a referee’s decision come the final play of the game.
“Starting with the game against Wasps, we need to make sure we are clear enough ahead with a minute to go that we don’t have to rely on a decision going either way.”
He added: “I do lose sleep over the decisions when they go against us. When you get home at night after a game, you can’t help thinking about it.
“You can’t dwell on it though. It is galling, because we know we could well be in the top six, but the fact of the matter is that we are not there and we are now in a battle.”