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Worcester Warriors 16 London Irish 25
WHILE the ultimate goal for Worcester Warriors this season would have been no loftier than simply preserving their top-flight status, it is still disappointing to see the campaign end with such a whimper.
There were encouraging signs beginning to build in the shape of the club’s 2012 home form, but that was soon scrubbed away in the space of 160 miserable minutes.
As if the naivety of the Exeter defeat wasn’t tough enough to take, then the lacklustre display in defeat to London Irish went one step further.
Although there have been plenty of occasions when Worcester have thrown away winning positions late on in games this term, the manner of the Exeter loss was truly spectacular.
However, while that is concerning, the manner of the Exiles no-show should be even more troubling for head coach Richard Hill as his players simply failed to turn up for most of the opening 40 minutes.
The former England scrum-half admitted he read the riot act to his charges during the interval and, admittedly, they did perform a lot better in the second period.
The real concern in the Sixways boardroom must be supporter apathy, though.
Through all the tough times over recent seasons, I have never before witnessed such a flood of fans heading for the turnstiles before the end of a game as was evident on Saturday.
When Delon Armitage crossed for a 74th-minute score to make it 25-11, that was all-but game over for Warriors as teams rarely score two tries in the closing minutes of matches to snatch the most unlikely of victories. Well, unless they are Exeter and they’re playing at Sixways, that is.
Yet, despite this, there was a fairly heavy flow of people making their way out along the front of the West Stand with well over five minutes of the game to go. And after that display, you can’t really blame them.
With Newcastle having lost to Saracens the night before Irish came to Sixways, Worcester already knew they were safe. They should have been fired up to produce a do-or-die display of carefree, attacking rugby.
That was emphatically not the case though. Although the hosts did put some decent attacking phases together, this game will ultimately be remembered (if it is at all) as yet another dire contest between two struggling teams.
Neither set of players had anything riding on the outcome of the match and, quite frankly, most of them played as if their minds were already on a beach somewhere.