Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Warriors Talk Themselves into a Crisis as Falcons Fly; TRY TIME Rugby Talk with MARK SMITH

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Warriors Talk Themselves into a Crisis as Falcons Fly; TRY TIME Rugby Talk with MARK SMITH

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK SMITH

NEWCASTLE Falcons now have a sevenpoint safety net between themselves and Worcester at the bottom of the Premiership - a club who, judging by the messages coming out, look to be sinking like a stone.

Even in early October that seems the only outcome given the defeatist vibes of their owner, coach and consequently, supporters.

Before a ball had even been kicked at Sixways last Saturday in the battle of the top tier's bottom two, the home fans had read with furrowed brow the comments of long-time supremo Cecil Duckworth.

The boiler magnate (he founded the Worcester-Bosch Group) offered little in the way of warmth in his programme notes, admitting: "We do not expect to be competitive against the top four or five teams."

Nobody is suggesting for one second they are going to do the double over the Leicesters and Northamptons of this world. But the suggestion they cannot even compete must have had the 6,415 in attendance wondering why they had bothered, let alone the players in the changing room.

It is not even a point backed up by statistics, taking last season as an example, where Worcester took points off all of the top-five teams in one form or another.

Beating Saracens, drawing with Gloucester and achieving losing bonus points against Leicester, Northampton and Harlequins, their results against the better sides helped significantly towards keep them in the division.

By coming out with his statement Duckworth has effectively given his Warriors a free pass against the big guns and, in doing so, heaped even more pressure on the handful of encounters with their relegation rivals. That certainly seemed the sentiment as they fell 16-11 to the Falcons on Saturday, director of rugby Dean Ryan admitting afterwards that confidence was a major issue.

Newcastle counterpart Dean Richards played it perfectly in stating that Worcester's poor start is not enough to write them off, a statement aimed arguably more at his own players in avoiding any shoots of complacency creeping in. …

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