Head Coach Richard Hill was delighted to see his Worcester Warriors overcome an ‘edgy’ performance and battling Newcastle Falcons to record a crucial 19-9 victory in the Aviva Premiership.
Centre Alex Grove settled a tight and tense encounter with a try in the final quarter of the game to move Worcester 16 points clear of bottom spot with just four games to go.
Hill admitted his Warriors had struggled to produce in the opening half as Newcastle adopted a kicking game.
But he was pleased to see his team finally click into gear in the second gear to deny Falcons even a losing bonus point.
“The big thing for me was the players on the pitch were very edgy, it was a very edgy performance,” said Hill.
“It was a big game and, although we thought we were safe this year, if we had lost tonight we then had to go to Welford Road next weekend while Newcastle have got Sale at home. You could just see what was going to happen.
“If they beat us and then beat Sale, although we have two home games here, it would have put huge pressure on us.
“For us it was a big game. We have done a lot of hard work this year so to slip up at the end would have been very bad.
“Fortunately at half-time we relaxed a little bit, changed tactics and kept the ball in hand a lot more and looked more threatening.
“Newcastle rely on a very good kick and a very good kick chase. We knew at half-time that you can’t keep doing that for 80 minutes, your kick chase will not be as effective because you get tired.
“They were superb with their kicks and superb with their kick chase, but it is impossible to keep doing that all game. We saw them become less effective in the second half.”
Hill also had words of encouragement for Falcons in defeat and admitted they had been unfortunate not to take a half-time lead.
“It was all about the result,” said Hill. “But it is hard to play against Newcastle and they have a certain way of playing. They do kick a lot and rely on territory and winning penalties.
“We went in with a strategy of trying to play then at their own game and play territory. We identified that Falcons weren’t going to run it in from 80 or 90 metres.
“But that didn’t work; quite clearly they were better than we were first half. We tried to pin them in their half, but it didn’t happen and they won that kicking battle hands down.
“They controlled field position and had 80 per cent territory and possession. The only fortunate thing was we made a mess of their lineout so when they had an attacking position our lineout defence was excellent.
“We ended up 3-3 at half-time and I thought we were lucky to go in at 3-3. At half-time we had to change tactics and also relax a little bit.
“It was a tough old battle,” he added. “I have been in that position before where it is not nice to go away from a ground when you haven’t got a single point.
“They battled and played as hard as they could do. I feel for them, but the fact that Goodey kicked that penalty will be a hammer blow to them.
“I have looked at the fixture list and Wasps have a horrendous fixture list too. I wouldn’t want that. I still think there is a chink of light for Newcastle.”
“Fortunately at half-time we relaxed a little bit, changed tactics and kept the ball in hand a lot more and looked more threatening…"