Premiership Round 2: Harlequins 27-30 Saracens, Leicester Tigers 36-21 Newcastle Falcons, Bath 20-37 Sale Sharks, Wasps 8-23 Bristol Bears, Northampton Saints 38-22 London Irish, Worcester Warriors 21-36 Exeter Chiefs; Steve Diamond: “I don’t know how long we can keep going with this”
Last Updated: 18/09/22 7:58pm
Exeter ensured there was no fairytale ending to a turbulent week for beleaguered Worcester as the Chiefs claimed a 36-21 Premiership victory at Sixways.
The crisis-hit Warriors, with debts spiralling as high as £25m, just met Friday’s deadline to allow the Gallagher Premiership fixture to take place with their support staff having to perform miracles to meet stringent regulations in order to do so.
Many of those people, as well as the players, are yet to receive their full salaries and their efforts were recognised as dozens formed a guard of honour as the team took to the field before a regulated crowd of 5,000.
Worcester played with huge spirit but Exeter always had the edge and ended up outscoring their hosts five tries to three.
Two came from the impressive Exeter No 8 Richard Capstick, with the Chiefs’ other scores coming from Olly Woodburn, Jack Maunder and Joe Simmonds, who added four conversions and a penalty.
Alex Hearle, Gareth Simpson and Ollie Lawrence scored Worcester’s tries, two of which were converted by Owen Williams with Billy Searle adding the extras for the other.
It took less than three minutes for Worcester to fall behind when Exeter’s accurate inter-passing created a huge gap in the hosts’ defence for Simmonds to stroll over.
Worcester’s woes soon worsened when Murray McCallum was sin-binned for a dangerous challenge on Simmonds and, in the prop’s absence, Exeter extended their lead when Capstick collected a long pass from Jack Nowell to score.
McCallum returned in time to see his front-row colleague Valery Morozov depart injured, with British and Irish Lion Rory Sutherland replacing him.
Warriors needed a boost and they got one. A strong run from Lawrence put the visitors’ defence on the back foot to create space for Hearle, who squeezed past his opponent before running 25 metres for an excellent try.
It was Exeter’s turn to lose a player to injury when prop Marcus Street limped off but they overcame that setback to create a second try for Capstick.
Rory O’Loughlin began the move by cleverly stepping inside Perry Humphreys to send Woodburn racing away. The wing linked with his support before Capstick was again on hand to charge over.
Simmonds converted before adding a penalty to leave his side with a 22-7 half-time advantage.
Five minutes after the restart, Warriors stunned Chiefs with a superb second try as they got a foothold back into the game. From deep inside his own half, Joe Batley stormed up field on a 40-metre run before providing Simpson with the scoring pass.
Exeter were rattled but they regained their composure when well-timed passing from Harvey Skinner and Simmonds gave Woodburn a walk-in.
Still Warriors would not lie down with Lawrence bumping off a tackle to reward a pre-planned lineout move but Exeter had the final say with their fifth try scored by replacement Maunder.
Diamond: I don’t know how long we can keep going; Venter: It’s mentally tough on playing squad
Worcester director of rugby Steve Diamond admitted following his side’s battling defeat to Exeter that the future of the crisis-hit Warriors remains in serious doubt.
The financially-strapped club met Friday’s deadline to be allowed to fulfil this fixture by the skin of their teeth but Diamond warned that a line had to be drawn somewhere.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has said it will continue to work with Worcester’s owners regarding funding and potential takeover proposals with debts spiralling as high as £25m and many players and staff yet to receive their full August salaries.
Diamond said after Sunday’s 36-21 defeat to Exeter at Sixways: “I don’t know how long we can keep going with this as I’ve been informed that negotiations are taking place behind the scenes but I’m not party to them.
“In the professional era, no director of rugby should be required to deal with such a situation as the players haven’t been paid their August salaries.
“There are limits to how many times players or staff can turn out on goodwill without being paid and it’s impossible for anyone to work without any internet and heating with winter around the corner.
“We are hoping to fulfil the fixture with Gloucester on Wednesday. We wanted to bring in a few loan players but at present we can’t afford to pay the RFU the appropriate sum.
“I’m hoping the money we’ve taken today can be used and not disappear down a black hole as we are on the never-never at the moment.
“Realistically I don’t know how long we can keep going for with the winding-up application due in late September, a line has to be drawn somewhere.”
Diamond added: “I’m very proud as it was a huge-hearted performance but the players will still get a b*****king as we conceded 16 penalties, lost half our lineouts and scored from only three of our 10 incursions into their 22.
“Despite all the off-field hullabaloo, we need to be better than that.”
Warriors skipper Francois Venter added: “What’s going on in the background is mentally tough but hopefully it will get sorted.
“We still don’t know the position but it will be very upsetting if it’s our last game on this pitch.”
Source : Sky Sports