When Worcester accumulated half a dozen points at Adams Park last season, it was enough to win them the match. The Midlanders feared they could not pull the same trick twice and sure enough, they came up marginally short yesterday in a game so low on quality that use of the word "dire" was more aspirational than accurate. "Sorry to subject you to that shite," said the visiting coach Richard Hill, with characteristic candour. Apology accepted, but only just.
If there was an awful lot of good rugby played in the Premiership over the weekend, these two sides provided next to none of it. Joe Launchbury, the young back-five forward currently to be found in the lower reaches of England's elite squad for the forthcoming international series at Twickenham, was the pick of a very poor bunch and it was entirely appropriate that he should have made decisive contributions at either end of a contest so forgettable that it was taking its leave of the memory bank well before the interval.
Three minutes in, he maximised an initial route-one bust from his back-row partner Billy Vunipola to leave the visitors at sixes and sevens. Seconds later, the Test lock Tom Palmer found Simon McIntyre with a sweet inside pass and celebrated royally as the loose-head prop crossed for a try converted by Stephen Jones.
An eternity later, in the final act of the game, Launchbury ended a last-gasp Worcester attack that in itself threatened to be everlasting by smashing Blair Cowan with a heavy tackle that forced the substitute loose forward into a knock-on – an act of purest generosity, given that it ended the torment. Precious little happened in the 77 minutes separating these events, apart from Launchbury moving from blind-side flank to lock in a tactical move designed to work Jonathan Poff, the New Zealander, into the game.
Poff did not make much difference: by the time he took the field midway through the third quarter, virtually everyone had disappeared into a black hole of incompetence. Even Jones, who had kicked 15 from 15 since joining the club from Scarlets, missed shots in the second half that would have made his side's life significantly easier in the final quarter.
David Young, the Wasps rugby director, was happy enough with the points, but his wider appreciation of what he had just seen mirrored that of his opposite number. "I've made my feelings known," he said. "We wouldn't have beaten many sides playing like that, if I'm being honest."
At least he could smile at Launchbury's performance. "People talk of Joe as a star of the future but as far as I'm concerned, he's already here," the Welshman remarked. Had Wasps' best player been elsewhere yesterday, there would have been even less to remember.
Wasps Try McIntyre; Conversion Jones; Penalty Jones. Worcester Penalty Goode; Drop goal Goode
Wasps H Southwell (capt); C Wade, A Masi (E Daly 59), C Bell, T Varndell; S Jones, J Simpson; S McIntyre (P Swainston 73), T Lindsay, S Taulafo, T Palmer (J Poff 52), M Wentzel, J Launchbury, J Haskell (A Johnson 64), W Vunipola.
Worcester C Pennell (J Carlisle 64); J Clarke, A Grove, J Matavesi (R Fatiaki 50), D Lemi; A Goode, J Arr (P Hodgson 64); M Mullan (C Jones 73), A Lutui (O Hayes 73), J Andress (J Currie 73), J Percival, D Schofield (capt, C Gillies 59), C Jones, S Betty, M Kvesic (B Cowan 59).
Referee L Ap Geraint-Roberts (South Yorkshire)Reuse content