The smiles smeared across the faces of Worcester Warriors players last weekend meant some of them were barely recognisable without their permascowls.
Indeed for some of those players, Sunday’s 17-12 victory at Kingston Park was the first time they have ever won a match in Blue and Gold.
Ryan Lamb, Ofa Fainga’anuku, Agustin Creevy and Mariano Galarza had never before featured in a winning Warriors team, while skipper Jonathan Thomas tasted a first Premiership success. It was vintage stuff.
But on Monday those smiles would have been replaced by literal and metaphorical headaches. Dean Ryan promised his men a ‘few beers’ on the journey back from Newcastle but the road to Premiership safety is far harder.
In fact, amid all the euphoria at the end of their 22-game losing run, one inescapable truth was temporarily obscured. Warriors are still almost certain to be relegated.
So likely that online betting aggregator Oddschecker shows only one company is still offering odds on them pulling off the greatest escape. 100-1 against.
Not even a modicum of momentum nor the fact 11th placed Newcastle haven’t won a league game for 12 matches can lead one to any other conclusion than happy, though they might be now, Worcester are going to be pretty miserable in the next month.
One only has to look at their remaining fixtures to see the chances of them avoiding the drop are very, very poor. Exeter at home, Saracens and Bath away and Gloucester at Sixways on the final day does not make promising reading.
Let’s start with Exeter. Worcester have never beaten Rob Baxter’s men since they were promoted to the Premiership. In fact one has to go back ten years, to March 2004, to find the last time the Warriors beat the Chiefs.
John Brain’s men were en route to the top flight and a perfect 26 out of 26 when they won 25-14 at County Ground. It was that long ago.
Since then the six meetings between the sides have brought the princely total of three losing bonus points.
Since then the six meetings between the sides have brought the princely total of three losing bonus points. The same number of gut-churning defeats they have suffered in the last three seasons.
Exeter came to Sixways in February and sent Ryan in an apoplexy as they hammered his disinterested team 42-3 in the LV Cup.
When they dropped by in March 2013 Warriors were winning until Josh Matavesi was yellow carded and Dean Mumm crashed over three minutes from the end.
If that was bad it paled into insignificance compared to the 31-26 reverse of April 2012 when Warriors were actually winning by seven points with two minutes to go before Phil Dollman and Sireli Naqelevuki delivered knockout blows. As things stand Worcester have a recent record of played six, lost six against Exeter.
After their seventh attempt they go to Bath where the form guide is even less favourable. They have visited The Rec on nine occasions – and lost every time. Two loss bonuses is a paltry reward.
Which brings us to Saracens away. Played nine, won one, lost eight. In November 2006 Gavin Quinnell and Tom Harding scored the tries that secured a 20-17 triumph.
In the three trips to Vicarage Road after that Worcester managed just six points on three occasions. They at least managed to secure a bonus point when they went down 25-20 at Wembley in February 2010.
However, their first visit to the Allianz Arena ended in a 47-17 rout and a 20-minute hat-trick for David Strettle. Auguries for their return are not good.
All of which leaves too much to do against Gloucester. One wouldn’t put it past Warriors winning that game, in fact they have done quite well when the Cherry and Whites come to Sixways.
They have picked up points in all eight meetings and won three of them. Indeed Thinus Delport’s last minute winner in March 2008 and Marcel Garvey’s touchline romp four years later are highlight of Warriors’ Premiership odyssey. They need a repeat and more in the next month.