Northampton Saints 24 Worcester Warriors 14

WORCESTER Warriors missed a chance to strengthen their Aviva Premiership survival hopes with an error-strewn performance at Franklin’s Gardens.

They paid the price for too many unforced errors and will also rue two missed Ryan Mills penalties early in the second half.

Mills struggled with his tactical kicking game as Warriors laboured for long periods in their own half against a functional Northampton Saints side in a scrappy match.

Worcester's line-out creaked at important moments and Saints’ power at the scrum eventually told as the visitors brought on replacements.

Warriors' backs showed their potency at the beginning and end with Josh Adams and Bryce Heem touching down and that will add to the visitors’ frustration.

However, second-from-bottom Worcester showed more robustness in defence when they came under pressure.

Scrum-half Francois Hougaard’s aggression in the tackle was clear, while the return of full-back Chris Pennell will be a timely boost for the visitors.

But Warriors haven’t won an away Premiership match since beating Harlequins at The Stoop in March last year.

In fact, Worcester have played 30 away Premiership matches since the beginning of the 2013/14 season, winning only three and suffering 27 defeats.

Warriors started brightly against Saints, winning a scrum penalty against the head before suffering a blow when tighthead Nick Schonert left the field in the fourth minute after a bang on the head.

Worcester went ahead in the sixth minute after a slick move. Wynand Olivier collected a pass from Jackson Willison and sliced through the Saints midfield.

The South African’s long pass found Adams on the left and the Welshman finished superbly under pressure for his third Premiership try. Mills added the difficult touchline conversion.

Sustained Saints pressure finally paid off when Teimana Harrison powered over the line in the 20th minute after a strike move from the back of an attacking line-out.

Stephen Myler’s conversion levelled the match and he fired Saints ahead with a penalty in the 30th minute after Will Spencer’s high tackle.

Poor discipline allowed Saints to build more momentum and they struck a crucial blow on the stroke of half-time.

Saints held up a maul inside Warriors’ 22 in the final minute which allowed them the platform of an attacking scrum and Mikey Haywood took advantage.

Ken Pisi offloaded to Alex Waller and fortuitously the ball spilled backwards in the tackle which allowed Haywood a simple touchdown.

Myler’s conversion gave Saints a 17-7 advantage at the break.

Warriors showed renewed vigour at the start of the second period which forced two penalties.

However, Mills was off target with both in the 48th and 51st minutes as Warriors failed to capitalise on their pressure.

The power of Saints’ scrum started to tell and the hosts were denied a third try after a driving line-out was held up. Warriors’ respite was short-lived.

After being awarded an earlier penalty Myler kicked to the corner and Haywood was driven over from the line-out. Myler’s conversion stretched Saints’ lead to 24-7.

The visitors refused to buckle and got their reward in the final play. Heem used his strength to cross the whitewash in the final play and Ryan Lamb converted.

Warriors’ 10-point losing margin was their second lowest defeat on their Premiership travels this term but in truth it was a missed opportunity for Gary Gold’s side.