Hill delight at league century target

Head Coach Richard Hill was pleased with his Worcester Warriors for hitting the century as they closed the regular season with a 27-20 victory over Birmingham & Solihull at Damson Park.

Worcester completed the first phase of the RFU Championship campaign with 101 points as tries from Matt Kvesic, Chris Pennell and Oriol Ripol secured a win in a closely fought local derby.

Warriors will now face London Welsh, Nottingham Rugby and Bristol in the end of season play-offs and Hill is content with how his squad is shaping up after a difficult final day test against the battling Bees.

“The target was always to try and get to a 100 league points,” said Hill. “We just about achieved that and the win over Bees so credit to the players for getting this far with that many points and just one defeat.

“It was a hard battle here. Give Birmingham huge credit, they tackled everything that moved and put real pressure on at the breakdown and at the scrum.

“They wanted to turn over the big rivals down the road and it was a good derby game. Birmingham, as most teams do against Worcester, raised their game and were very competitive.

“We had to battle for that win. The first 40 minutes up the slope we struggled a little bit. We looked the better side in the second half but never really got far away from them.”

Hill picked out Kvesic for special praise as the England Under-20 back row shone in the loose and proved a strong ball carrier on a wet and difficult playing surface.

“There were some very good performances in our team and I thought Matt Kvesic was outstanding,” added Hill. “There was a lesson in how to look after the ball in difficult conditions in contact from him.

“We were guilty of not looking after the ball in contact. We had most of the ball but kept spilling it. Matt Kvesic was an example to the rest.

“It was unusual for us to lose so much ball in contact and we didn’t really play the conditions which was disappointing. We had enough experience to play better than that and we were throwing the ball around.

“Credit to the players for wanting to play in these conditions and it is the last game of this phase of the season and they don’t really want to stick it up the jumper.

“But conditions did not allow a lot of flowing rugby. We were guilty of running instead of kicking it into their half. But I would much rather we have a go on a final day.”

The game also marked the return to league action of Matt Mullan and Pennell and Hill was delighted with the way his star duo came through – with Pennell grabbing a crucial comeback try.

Hill said: “We had planned to give Chris around 40 minutes, but I spoke to him before the second half and he was keen to do another 10 minutes – he must have known he was going to score.

“He did some nice things with a fantastic try and then a huge clearing kick which was about two inches from being perfect.

“I have seen him catch, run and score a try. It was a really good start for him, he looks calm and controlled at full back.

“He has said he feels fine and that will do his confidence the world of good. For the lad to come back, after such a horrific serious injury, and come straight into a league match and play like that in a composed manner was a really good start.

“Matt has also come through well. They both feel rusty but that is a very good start for both of them.”