The Worcester Warriors put in their best performance under the Steve Diamond regime so far on Saturday afternoon at Sixways as they hosted in-form Exeter Chiefs.
After suffering a big 43-12 loss to London Irish in round 19, the Warriors needed to bounce back if they were to pull themselves off the bottom of the Gallagher Premiership – and bounce back they did.
Worcester Warriors claim another bonus point win
A hat-trick of tries from young winger Alex Hearle (main picture above) as well as wonder tries from Noah Howard and Harri Doel saw Steve Diamond’s men seal only their second-ever win over the visitors in the Premiership Rugby era.
The travelling Chiefs may have been defeated and reduced to 14 men after just 14 minutes when Tom Hendrickson saw red for a head-to-head contact with Warriors’ Sione Vailanu but they were by no means looking likely to lay down. Even at 16 points down on the scoreboard with 10 minutes remaining.
In fact, when Max Norey found the line and Simmonds added the extras with 10 minutes to go, there’s an argument to say they could have possibly come away from Sixways with at least a draw or more.
Earlier first-half tries from Santiago Grondona and Tom O’Flaherty kept them level pegging at halftime while Jack Innard’s score before Harri Doel’s wonder try just after the 60-minute mark actually put the Chiefs within touching distance despite that Worcester numbers advantage.
Worcester Warriors claim win against Exeter
In all, Worcester Warriors did what they had to do in the end despite Exeter’s late charge and that was to remain committed, show an excellent attitude, play your role to a man as well as stay disciplined with the ball entering their own half with the clock in the red. A penalty at that point and we could have been talking about a different outcome.
FT | Worcester Warriors 35-31 Exeter Chiefs
— Worcester Warriors (@WorcsWarriors) March 12, 2022
However, despite a 17 penalty count against them through the game being ‘a worry’ previous history they have when it comes to being in close calls late on, they did all the above and proved good money for this outstanding team effort.
There’s no doubt that this win for Worcester was fully deserved overall. Again, it seems strange as 17 penalties conceded from breakdowns, mauls and in particular, the scrum, it could have been quite the opposite. That said, it wasn’t and as mentioned this was without a doubt the best performance under Steve Diamond. Why? Well, let’s find out.
Here are three things as Worcester Warriors claim bonus-point win over Exeter:
Youngsters are delivering exactly what’s needed of them and it wasn’t just a one-off
Steve Diamond said recently is that the young lads are going to get opportunities and it’s what they do with those opportunities which will help him understand where his squad is at. Saturday’s game wasn’t the first time we had seen what the young lads offer but it was certainly a big takeaway and another big ‘pick me’ statement too.
Alex Hearle’s hat-trick – the first by any player for the Warriors since Francois Hougaard’s trio against Sale Sharks back in round 17 of the competition last year. The player of the match was a well-deserved accolade for the local lad, who after the game admitted he “always loves whenever he gets the opportunity to put on a Warriors shirt.” It’s fair to say, the fans will totally agree after this his latest showing.
Another youngster who once again had his mark on the game – Noah Heward. After having been out for so long, his return to the team has been a breath of fresh air and his performance was another prime example as to why. Having come very close to a length of the field score via an interception in the first half, he was rewarded for that predatory instinct in the second.
With his team pinned on their own try line, Heward finally got his inception and of course, went the length of the field to score. Even the jets of Exeter’s Ollie Woodburn wasn’t going to prevent him from making it four tries in three since his return after a four-month absence. That said, the Exeter defence had issues all afternoon with him as he fed on them, beating 10 Chiefs defenders on the afternoon, racking up a huge 186 metres on his way too. More than any other player league-wide in round 20.
Fin Smith showed us why he is and should be considered as the Worcester starting fly-half. His kicking game was immaculate – 100% from his kicking tee – he also pulled the strings exceptionally well once again and of course, You couldn’t have asked any more of the 19-year-old.
With those three youngsters continuing to put in high-quality performances, it was no wonder Steve Diamond was so highly impressed with them after the game. Saying: “The young lads who are playing, Harri Doel comes on, Alex Hearle, Noah Heward. It’s like being back at Sale when a young guy comes off the conveyor belt every week and you stick them in and they look like a superstar.”
Speaking of Doel, his score with his first touch of the game needs no words. Just sit back and enjoy one of the best scores you will see this season. Luck of the bounce? Absolutely not! You make your own luck. Outstanding try, pure moment of magic which seemed to come out of nowhere! Wow!
🤩 Good morning everyone! 🪄pic.twitter.com/oceUWvVVUc
— Worcester Warriors (@WorcsWarriors) March 13, 2022
Skipper Ted Hill, as well as Jack Forsythe, are also two other Warriors academy lads who featured heavily against the Chiefs. Both fully deserve a mention and in particular, Forsythe, who only made his Premiership Rugby debut the previous week. He came on to replace the big hole that was left by Vailanu, who failed his HIA check and certainly stepped up to the mark. 22 tackles on the game – a tie with teammate Annett for most league-wide in round 20.
Experienced heads continue to complement the performances of youngsters among them perfectly
With the youngsters are turning out performances such as this one against a very experienced, tough, and in-form Exeter team, there is a huge need for experience alongside them. It has been evident in recent weeks that the performances of the experienced heads among the youth have been complemented perfectly. This was another prime example of that also.
Niall Annett, as mentioned, put in a hell of a shift, not missing a single one of his 22 tackles, putting it all on the line as he often does, and winning 9 of his ten lineouts. Fellow front-rower Murray McCallum can also put himself in the same category as he made all of his own 18 tackles. In fact, the Warriors’ tackle game as a whole was flawless, missing just 14 of their 233 attempted tackles.
Willi Heinz, who was making his second start back from injury, looked like he was back to his best. Heinz’s line break to set off Hearle for his first score of the afternoon was one of many examples as to why the former England International’s experience had been missed during his time on the sidelines. It was the first time he had lined up next to Smith as the 9 and 10. It was like it was second nature, both complemented each other perfectly.
Matt Kvesic and Christian Judge are also very worthy of a mention. Kvesic once again everywhere, at every breakdown and didn’t miss a tackle of his own, contributing to that solid defensive team effort of the Warriors.
The not so good can be overlooked but certainly needs working on
Without being over critical, this performance deserved to be the Warriors’ fourth home win in the last six, their second-ever win over the Chiefs, and also adding in the extra try bonus point to match their best-ever return. There was one area – in which has already mentioned – that wasn’t pretty. The Warriors gave up 18 penalties on the day, something of which cost them in the battle for possession and territory. It didn’t affect the outcome of the scoreboard but had their discipline been a lot better especially at the breakdowns and scrum, then maybe the Chiefs wouldn’t have left Sixways with anything and certainly wouldn’t have been in the game right up until five minutes to go.
It was against the grain that the final penalty to bring the game to an end was awarded to the Warriors, although given the defensive effort as mentioned previously, it was fully deserved it over the course of the 80 minutes.
Penalty count aside, this was an outstanding team performance from the Warriors which was capped off by a local lad grabbing himself a hat-trick he will never forget. Overall, this was the best performance under Steve Diamond to date and it certainly won’t be the last.
Main Photo Credit:
Embed from Getty Images