As pleased as the Worcester supporters were by last Friday night’s victory over Newcastle, for some the ends barely justified the means.
Indeed, it is impossible to recall another occasion when the club’s top-flight status had been effectively sealed to such a background of dissent, only exacerbated by Richard Hill’s post-match comments.
The head coach revealed Worcester had tried to beat Newcastle at their own, extremely limited, exclusively kick-chase-based game and some fans responded by wondering if Hill might have given his side licence to be rather more ambitious.
After all, if Warriors are not going to open up in a match that was on paper their easiest Premiership fixture of the season, then when will they? Tomorrow, next week, some time, never?
It is a debate in which outside-centre Alex Grove is well versed, and so he should be as the one player likely to benefit most from a more expansive outlook. “The next step is to evolve that game plan,” the 24-year-old agreed. “The foundation of our game is built on our defence and, as you can see, I think Bath was a blip, but on the whole our defence has been good.
“We can build on that and put other teams under pressure with the ball in hand. That’s what everyone wants to see and that’s how we would like to play. It’s up to the half-backs to determine what sort of game we play, even if we want to play a little bit more they have still got to put us in the right areas of the pitch.
“If you look in the second half (against Newcastle) they did that really well, especially Jonny Arr coming off the bench using his left boot, he did that superbly.
“It’s getting into that habit of getting the ball in hand in training and having the confidence to do it under pressure in a game situation.”
But he remained unapologetic about the route taken to Friday’s 19-9 success, a result that put the Sixways outfit 16 points clear with only 20 to play for. With enticing home fixtures with Exeter and London Irish to come, Worcester are definitely looking up the table.
“It was a disappointing first half but the most important thing is we won. Hopefully now the pressure is off and we can afford to be a little bit more ambitious. We got stuck into a kicking battle in the first half and I felt Newcastle won that kicking battle. We were quite fortunate to just be 3-3 at half-time.
“They had all the possession, all the territory but, fair play to the boys, especially the forwards who turned the screw in the second half. It took us until then to get that territory from which we could launch an attack. That’s when the try came.” But supporters would like more than one.