Keast still shopping for success

Worcester 18 Saracens 19
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The Independent Online


Anyone Doubting Worcester's intent to remain in the Premiership need only consider the calibre of player they are lining up for next season.

Anyone Doubting Worcester's intent to remain in the Premiership need only consider the calibre of player they are lining up for next season.

The Northampton fly-half Shane Drahm is a done deal, reportedly for £150,000 a year; the England scrum-half Andy Gomarsall is poised to put pen to paper, apparently for £25,000 a year more. Worcester are also chasing a couple of wingers.

Top of the shopping list are said to be South Africa's Breyton Paulse and Fiji's Sireli Bobo. The former France and Gloucester prop Patrice Collazo was spotted at Sixways before this match and Worcester have also targeted a couple of back-row forwards.

There is an outside chance Worcester could slip up on the run-in to the end of the season, but relegation is highly unlikely, given that they have established a substantial cushion between themselves and the bottom club, Leeds.

Even their wobble against Saracens on Saturday provided what could prove a vital bonus point. For 35 minutes it looked as if they would find themselves strolling to victory, as they turned in a display of 15-man rugby that belied the perception that 10-man is all they know. Saracens found themselves under attack from all angles and were swiftly a couple of Ben Hinshelwood tries down.

Worcester were galvanised by their quick-witted half-back combination of Matt Powell and James Brown, the latter returning just three weeks after having his appendix removed.

"He was the hero for me," said the coach, Andy Keast. "He has lost weight, hardly eaten and I even had to order him to stop training at one point this week, so exhausted was he. But he gave it his all."

They all did, actually. But the loss of the feisty lock Tim Collier, who left the ground on crutches, early in the second half was too great a loss against a team coached by someone like Steve Diamond.

Saracens came back snarling in the second half and bounced back from the loss with a hamstring strain of the full-back Dan Scarbrough, who was in his first match since early October, when he suffered a shoulder injury.

"We have to learn to be able to control things in the first half," said Diamond, who acknowledged the input of Thomas Castaignède, whose scintillating break for Saracens' opening try was a key factor in their fightback.

According to Diamond two victories from their remaining three fixtures should be enough for a top three finish and entry to the Heineken Cup, which would no doubt please their new signing Andy Farrell, an interested spectator on Saturday.

Worcester need to cut out the unforced errors and learn how to press on after a good start. Real success in the Premiership demands concentration, effort and focus. The addition of some top-level players should help.

Worcester: Tries Hinshelwood 2; Conversion Brown; Penalties Brown 2. Saracens: Tries Castaignède, Russell, Johnston; Conversions Little 2.

Worcester: T Delport (T Hayes, 80); G Pieters, D Rasmussen, T Lombard, B Hinshelwood; J Brown, M Powell; A Windo, A van Niekirk (B Daley, 34-77), L Fortey, T Collier (P Murphy, 50), C Gillies, S Vaili (D Hickey, 50), P Sanderson (capt), B MacLeod-Henderson.

Saracens: D Scarbrough (M Bartholomeusz, 31); B Johnston, T Castaignède, D Harris (K Sorrell, 51), T Vaikona; N Little, K Bracken (M Rauluni, 67); K Yates, R Ibañez (M Cairns, 51), B Broster (N Lloyd, 67), I Fullarton (K Chesney, 58), S Raiwalui, T Randell, B Russell, H Vyvyan (capt).

Referee: W Barnes (Surrey).

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