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Harlequins 16, Worcester Warriors 14
WARRIORS head coach Richard Hill should be applauded for the confidence he exudes over his team’s prospects for the current season.
In the post-match press conference at The Stoop after Saturday’s valiant display against Harlequins, the former England scrum-half was asked if he was concerned by the fact Newcastle Falcons had beaten London Irish and closed the gap between themselves and Warriors to nine points.
Hill seemed genuinely surprised by the line of enquiry and instantly laughed it off as irrelevant as he only sees Warriors moving up the table this season.
While I don’t quite share the Worcester chief’s unflinching optimism, there is most definitely an air around Sixways these days that I have not seen before during five years of covering the side.
Prior to Hill’s tenure, directors of rugby John Brain and Mike Ruddock regularly talked simply about ‘targeting matches’ and winning the ‘key battles’ with the evident end game being to simply do enough to retain the club’s top-flight status.
However, things are different now. Warriors don’t have to pick their battles — they go into every game, home or away, genuinely confident they can beat their opponents.
Although a return of just five wins from 15 outings this season suggests that confidence may still be a little bit misplaced, there is certainly no shortage of belief within the squad and coaching staff.
Warriors have picked up at least a point from all but four of their Aviva Premiership matches this season, which is an important characteristic to have developed — if you’re not going to win, make sure you take something from the game.
Bath are currently just three points ahead of Warriors, with London Irish a further four to the good but, given the fixtures still to be played, there’s every chance Worcester could finish above both of them.
There is a real sense of togetherness within the squad and it was uplifting to listen to a battered and bruised James Percival speaking so glowingly about his club in the tunnel after Saturday’s 16-14 loss.
The powerhouse former Harlequins lock, who began his career in the Sixways academy, was not in the least bit interested about the fact he’d just played his former team. As far as he is concerned, Warriors have always been — and will always be — his club.
Such passion is one of the cornerstones on which Hill’s revival of the club has been built and there is every reason to believe the good times are around the corner.