WORCESTER Warriors came back down to earth with a bump after a heavy 38-10 defeat at Northampton Saints.

Home wins over Sale Sharks and Gloucester had created a buzz around Sixways as Warriors retained their Gallagher Premiership place.

But Worcester conceded five tries and suffered four injuries in a forgettable afternoon at Franklin’s Gardens.

Ben Te’o grabbed Warriors’ only try and the visitors showed resilience after the break but all the damage was done in a torrid opening 30 minutes.

Sports reporter Geoff Berkeley picks out five talking points.


Standing at 6ft 4in and weighing 19st 5lb Taqele Naiyaravaro is an absolute beast of a back and hard to stop when he gets going.

Spare a thought for Chris Pennell who was faced one and one with the Australian giant on 20 minutes.

Pennell has proven to be a reliant last line of defence for Warriors over the years but the full-back was simply swatted away by Naiyaravaro who scored in the corner.

Sam Lewis was also sent back-peddling when Naiyaravaro smashed over from close range for his second.

Naiyaravaro was almost unstoppable at times but there were far too many tame tackles going in by Warriors.

Luther Burrell carved Worcester open for Saints’ first try as he shrugged off flailing challenges by Te’o and Perry Humphreys on his way to the try-line and Tom Wood also crashed through for a fourth in the first half.


It was a nightmare opening half an hour for Warriors as they were not only conceding tries but losing players as well.

Humphreys was the first to go inside the first five minutes before Francois Venter and Nick Schonert failed head injury assessments (HIA) too.

In all his years of coaching boss Alan Solomons had never witnessed so many players sustaining blows to the head as Saints star Cobus Reinach also went off before being allowed back on after passing his HIA test.

And Worcester were dealt a further setback late on when Gareth Milasinovich had to leave the field following a bang to his head.

It all added to a disrupted afternoon for Warriors who also spent 10 minutes of the first half down to 14 men after Francois Hougaard saw yellow for killing the ball.

But the number of head injuries at Franklin’s Gardens was alarming and demonstrated that concussion remained a major issue in the sport.


After back-to-back victories Solomons felt compelled to stick with the same side. After all if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

But with just six days to overcome the emotionally and physically draining triumph over Gloucester to prepare for another bruising battle it was always going to be a tough ask to repeat the trick.

And so it proved as Worcester struggled to contain a Saints side chasing play-off spot.

It was only when Solomons emptied his bench that the things started to change with Andrew Kitchener and Ted Hill putting in powerful defensive displays.

It was clear fresh legs were in order and had those players lined up from the beginning Worcester may not have started so sluggishly.


Just two seasons ago Phil Dowson was being coached by Sam Vesty at Warriors.

The pair now find themselves on the same coaching staff at Northampton and have helped to mastermind the club’s rise to top-four contenders this season while Worcester can only look on in envy.

With Dowson in charge of the forwards and Vesty overseeing the backs Saints proved too strong for Warriors as they ran out 32-6 winners at Sixways before scoring five tries in a bumper home triumph on Saturday.

You could see the impact Vesty has made at Northampton as his side attacked from all angles especially in the opening period.

Saints’ forwards also packed a punch and Dowson would have been delighted to see Reece Marshall burrow over from a driving maul in the second half.


If Warriors are to stand any chance of steering well clear of relegation trouble in the future they must improve on their travels.

Aside from wins at Leicester Tigers and Bristol Bears Solomons’ men have picked up just two points in nine other trips this term.

With 11 points from 11 matches on the road Worcester also have the worst away record in the league, sitting behind Leicester Tigers (13), Bristol Bears (14), Bath (14) and relegated Newcastle Falcons (14).

Tenth-placed Warriors return to home comforts in a fortnight’s time though when they host Saracens on the final day of the season.