Worcester 30 Connacht 20
Serious business this European Challenge Cup. Normally a home win against a tough Irish side like Connacht would be cause for celebration. But, judging by the response after Worcester Warriors' less than convincing display, winning is no longer enough.
The scrappy nature of the performance in a game littered with mistakes, penalties, and some truly baffling decisions from the official, left Warriors coach John Brain less than satisfied.
Worcester won because, not for the first time, their forwards dominated the opposition in all areas of the game.
The scrum was applied with its usual ruthlessly efficiency, in the line-out Chris Fortey didn't miss a jumper all afternoon, and in the loose the Warriors forwards scrapped for everything they could get their hands on, legally or not.
Unfortunately, despite scoring three tries through Nicolas Le Roux, Shane Drahm, and Drew Hickey, the attacking relied primarily on the forwards. Knock-ons, poor passing, a failure to offload at the right time, and some bad decision-making saw the home side's back line fail to press home their advantage on several occasions.
It was this, and the realisation that the Irish will be a much tougher prospect in Galway next weekend, that gave Brain's post-match assessment a particularly downbeat feel.
"I still feel that we have to make an improvement in our performance if we are going to get a win next week," Brain said. "We haven't really done too much today. I think we will have frightened them, and we are going to have to improve on that to get a result out there."
Brain's response is a measure of the change in approach Warriors have taken to the competition.
Last year it was relegated to an afterthought at Sixways. But the return of a group format, and the very real chance of gaining a Heineken Cup spot, has elevated it in the list of priorities.
"What you've got this season is a proper format for the competition," Brain said.
"You've got good teams in it, and at the end of it you can qualify for the Heineken Cup. So it has always been our ambition from day one to win our group and qualify for a home quarter final.
"We're in pole position, and we don't intend to give that up. We know next week will be a very, very hard game. I think they will genuinely fancy their chances of beating us."
There is no reason to believe why Worcester can't win in Ireland. A fine performance from scrum-half Matt Powell was one of several good individual performances.
It is unlikely that they will get an official as pedantic as Jean-Pierre Matheu again. ' Typically French' was Brain's guarded response to the referee's performance.
Powell, given this game to challenge Andy Gomarsall, took it with aplomb. His distribution from the platform provided by the forwards was excellent and his passing changed the line of attack at the right moment.
The catch and drive, though, is still Worcester's most potent weapon and, while hugely effective, is reliant on winning enough penalties to create those opportunities. From open play they are less effective and, while capable of developing the opening, the final thrust is all too often missing.
Overlaps were missed when the final ball would have brought a try, and Draham and Thinus Delport were guilty of poor judgment with the line at their mercy.
For all that this win was exactly what Worcester needed. It puts them four points clear at the top of pool five, and a win in Galway should hand them the home quarterfinal tie they so desperately crave. Brain might even smile.