Rugby Championship: Worcester Warriors 32 Rotherham Titans 25
Worcester Warriors head coach Richard Hill admitted that his players fell into Rotherham's trap – despite coming out as winners from their clash at Sixways.
The visitors pushed their hosts all the way with to three hard-fought tries and enjoyed long spells of possession thanks to their powerful forwards.
Despite securing the win through scores from Miles Benjamin and Ed Shervington, Hill only rated his side”s performance as three out of ten, and insisted there was still more improvements to make.
He said: “You can see why Rotherham have won both of the first two games playing that sort of strategy.
“They came with a game plan today and that was to make sure they don’t give any ball to Worcester and invited us to give away penalties and we fell into the trap.
“The players are very happy to have come through this test, but are angry because we didn’t break them down as well as we should have done.”
Andy Goode gave Warriors the lead with an early penalty and the England fly-half was quickly involved again at the heart of Warriors’ first meaningful visit into Titan territory.
Tom Arscott lunged for the line but was held short before the ball was worked the width of the pitch for Graham Kitchener to feed Benjamin who crashed over in the corner.
After taking the early lead, it looked as if it was going to be a procession for the home side.
But a successful penalty from Juan Socino and a flurry of handling errors from Warriors allowed Rotherham to gain a foothold in the contest which they strengthened with a try which silenced the Sixways support.
Neil Best brought down a maul close to his own line and from the resulting penalty Dan Baines dived over to delight the visiting support.
Goode settled the home nerves with two quick penalties, but the visitors continued to have long spells of possession and made it count after piling on the pressure with a series of scrums on the five-metre line.
Despite continual calls from the visiting bench for the penalty try referee Andrew Taylorson held firm.
But the pressure soon told as Rob O”Donnell burrowed over and Socino converted to bring his side to within a point.
Warriors looked to hit back before the break, but Goode could only kick Kitchener’s pass out of play after a superb run from Marcel Garvey.
Hill introduced Adam Black and Greg Rawlinson at the start of the second half in a bid to sure up Warriors’ struggling scrum, and it quickly paid dividends as Goode kicked an easy penalty after a Rotherham infringement as the packs went down.
But Rotherham’s forwards weren’t going to be outdone, and they again forced Warriors back onto their own line where the pressure again told as Louis McGowan bulldozed over.
Socino converted to give his side a surprise but perhaps deserved lead, which Carlisle quickly wiped out with a penalty after replacing Goode.
Warriors continued to knock-on as they went in search of the lead they craved, but again it was the Titans who pushed forward and were camped in the Warriors’ 22.
They were rewarded with a simple penalty for Socino after Jake Abbott was pinged for not releasing as the rain came down at Sixways.
Hill urged Carlisle to kick for the corner after a penalty for not releasing, and they got their reward from the driving maul which followed.
Replacement hooker Shervington burrowed over for the try, which Carlisle converted to give Warriors a precious four point lead with ten minutes to go.
Instead of sitting back and accepting a losing bonus point, the visitors went forward again in search of the try they needed to take the points.
But they were punished with a string of penalties for not releasing, and Carlisle slotted from in front of the posts to extend the lead and secure the victory.