Tom Vickers’ Worcester v Saints ratings

BRUISE BROTHERS - Samu Manoa and Courtney Lawes turned on the power to help put Worcester to the sword (Picture: Linda Dawson)
BRUISE BROTHERS - Samu Manoa and Courtney Lawes turned on the power to help put Worcester to the sword (Picture: Linda Dawson)
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A sizeable Saints support headed to Sixways more in expectation than hope on Saturday.

Many members of the green, black and gold fraternity would have been expecting a comfortable success, garnished with a glut of tries.

Worcester, after all, had lost all eight of their Premiership games, shipping 224 points in the process.

But this wasn’t to be as straightforward as some fans and pundits had predicted and the players and management had hoped.

As the game hit the 60-minute mark, everyone of a Saints persuasion was preparing themselves for a sharp shock.

Worcester had blunted the opposition threat, leading 10-9 thanks to Ignacio Mieres’ try and conversion and a penalty from full-back Chris Pennell.

But they just couldn’t hold on, eventually being overawed by the strength of the Saints bench.

Tom Mercey, Courtney Lawes and Phil Dowson were among the cavalry called for to change the game - and they succeeded.

Anyone who has played team sport will have empathised with Worcester.

You work so hard for three quarters of the game, belying your underdog status only to see fresh, talented players emerge from the opposition bench.

It feels like you’re back to square one, having to start again to stem a threat that refuses to go away.

And, eventually, the inevitable happens: you crumble and the floodgates open.

Once Samu Manoa had broken the resistance on 63 minutes, it was no surprise that Saints started to flow.

Tom Collins grabbed his first senior try as Worcester found themselves exposed out wide before Tom Wood eased over the line, teed up by Premiership debutant Tom Stephenson.

Suddenly, with six minutes to go, a Saints team lacking in ideas for much of the match, had their sights set on the bonus point.

It’s the crazy nature of the game we follow - and it isn’t half interesting.

Much has been made of the fact Saints only took eight points from a possible 10 against strugglers Newcastle and Worcester.

But if you could look at the fixture list before the season, predict what would happen and see it unfold, it wouldn’t be sport. It would be boring, predictable.

That the Falcons and the Warriors toughed it out and refused to give in is a sign of how intriguing the Premiership is.

They wanted a Saints-shaped scalp and though they didn’t get it, it is to their credit that they made a title-chasing team battle all the way.

For Jim Mallinder’s men, all that mattered was the winning, especially with the plethora of personnel they had missing.

Ben Foden, George Pisi, James Wilson, Kahn Fotuali’i and George North all have the skills to unlock a team like Worcester, but none of those stellar names were present.

Instead, players such as Dom Waldouck and Glenn Dickson were thrown in for first Premiership starts of the season and Academy graduate Collins was on the wing again.

It is not easy to develop a rhythm in the backline when you are constantly having to chop and change.

It takes time to build up partnerships and mutual understanding. That showed on Saturday, as Saints struggled to get into the groove.

But, as was mentioned last week, the sign of a good team is the ability to adapt to different circumstances and to win when you’re not playing well.

That was exactly what Saints did - and once again they sent their fans home happy, rather than with a big upset to chew over.

How they rated...

GLENN DICKSON

First Premiership start for the Kiwi, who handled it quite well. Maybe opted to kick too much, but didn’t look out of place... 6

KEN PISI

Thought he’d scored in the first half but was denied by the TMO. Other than that, couldn’t make too many inroads... 6

DOM WALDOUCK

A typically physical performance from the centre, but he was unable to provide the midfield spark Saints needed... 6

LUTHER BURRELL

Very rarely puts in a performance less than 7/10, and didn’t here. Gave Saints good go-forward and his power and quick thinking helped open some doors... 7

TOM COLLINS

Scored his first senior try and deserved it. Was the biggest threat during the first half and took his chance when it came in the second... 7

STEPHEN MYLER

A flawless performance from the tee from the fly-half, who is such an important part of this side. Only blot on the copybook was a clearance kick that was charged down for a try... 7

LEE DICKSON

Struggled to get the sort of tempo in the game that Saints needed, as Worcester followed Newcastle’s lead and disrupted Saints at every opportunity... 6

ALEX WALLER

Held his own in the scrum and also attempted to gain his team some ground with a few good carries... 7

DYLAN HARTLEY

The skipper tried to push Saints forward when they were struggling to get through the stubborn Worcester defence, and was accurate as ever in the set piece... 7

SALESI MA’AFU

Another decent day in the scrum for the big Australian, who is revelling in the chance to be part of such a consistent team... 6

SAMU MANOA

Is becoming quite prolific for Saints as he often puts himself in the right place at the right time. His power was key in breaking down the Warriors defence... 8

CHRISTIAN DAY

Showed good speed of thought to help release Pisi for a try that wasn’t in the first half. Was typically secure in the set piece... 6

CALUM CLARK

Cut a frustrated figure as he trudged off to be replaced by Phil Dowson as he wasn’t quite able to help Saints smash Worcester at the breakdown... 6

TOM WOOD - CHRON STAR MAN

Played against his former club for the first time since leaving in 2010, and loved every minute of it. His try was just reward for a fine performance... 8

SAM DICKINSON

Carried well for Saints and is a hard man to stop when he gets going. Did his best to get his team on the front foot... 7

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

TOM MERCEY (for Ma’afu 52)

Made an impact in the scrum when he came on and also provided some power in the loose as the tide started to turn... 7

COURTNEY LAWES (for Day 52)

A huge performance off the bench from the beanpole lock, who carried really well and put Worcester under pressure... 8

PHIL DOWSON (for Clark 52)

Such an important player to the Saints cause as he added aggression and intelligence to help ensure the win... 7