Boss Ruddock calls for cool heads

Warriors boss Mike Ruddock has called on his side to keep a cool head when they face Bristol Rugby in the huge Guinness Premiership clash at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 12.30pm).

Worcester travel to bottom club Bristol knowing victory will confirm top-flight status for next season.

Ruddock is expecting his side to revel in a passionate encounter but has also warned about letting emotions run high and called for a ruthless and clinical edge.

“The Gloucester game was a big win, but now we’ve checked back into reality and realised that we need to refocus on Bristol now as they’ll be scrapping for their lives and their livelihoods,” said Ruddock.

“We’ve just climbed one mountain, now we need to climb another, and so the focus of the week has been refocusing on the challenge that is Bristol and how important that game is to us.

“Our penalty count all season has been very good. Hugh Watkins, who works with us as our referee consultant, has done a great job on that regard.

“Apart from the game up at Leicester, where there was the French referee and some communication problems on that occasion, our penalty count has been very low in every game, and so that is testimony to the work Hugh’s done with us and with the boys.

“Discipline is going to be vital on Sunday – we don’t want to give Bristol any ‘piggy backs’, any easy points, and any opportunities really, that will be a big focus for us. Plenty of emotion and plenty of passion, but cool heads as well.”

Ahead of the clash, Ruddock has also revealed how highly he rates Bristol who have come close to a number of wins over top six sides in recent times.

“Bristol will look to chuck the kitchen sink at us and, in fairness to them, they’ve been playing some good rugby of late, some very competitive rugby, and this really is their season I guess.

“They obviously need this victory, in the same way that we do, and with them being at home, they’ll be fired up to try and give themselves a chance to go through the season and overtake us. You can bet your bottom dollar that they will stand up to a man and be counted, and bring everything they can to the table.

“They’ve got a very proud group of players there. Only last season, they we’re in Europe, and so it’s a very talented squad, a very good squad, and is very capable of winning. The last couple of games have shown that they are very competitive, and they’ve been very unlucky with some of their more recent performances not to get more results.”

Warriors will be without Chris Latham for the game at Bristol with the Aussie ace now ruled out for the season.

But Ruddock has total faith that Willie Walker can step into his shoes and that Matthew Jones can rise to the challenge after returning from injury.

“Losing Chris (Latham) is a massive blow to us really, on the back of other injuries to people like Sammy Tuitupou, who’s also out for the rest of the season, and so it’s a big loss,” he added.

“But we coped without him on Sunday with Mathew Jones stepping into ten and Willie Walker moving to fifteen and we will be relying on a similar partnership this weekend.”