Worcester Warriors had to battle all the way but Dean Ryan wasn’t worried after they secured a club record fourth straight Aviva Premiership victory with success at home to London Irish.
In a tryless affair at Sixways, four Tom Heathcote penalties were enough for the Warriors to secure a 12-6 win and take a giant step towards survival.
Now 16 points clear of London Irish, and 12 clear of Newcastle Falcons, Worcester are now all but guaranteed Aviva Premiership Rugby next season, and Ryan is thinking big as his team prepare for a trip to high-flying Exeter Chiefs next week.
He said: “It wasn’t the prettiest game but we knew that today was never going to be about that. Irish are really dangerous opponents. We did a lot of work on them in the last three or four weeks and their trajectory is massive in the last six weeks getting better.
“We said we have to outwork them, we have to stay on task and we have to defend. I thought defensively we were outstanding because they threw everything at us. For us it is about trying to change the way this club moves forward.
“It’s going to be about getting four wins, and challenging next week at Exeter. We’re sat in the changing rooms, the guys are absolutely exhausted. It’s been tough to train this week but we got through in the end.
“I’ve always said this club is about growth. We’ve added really quality but we’ve still got three guys under 23 in the front row.”
While Worcester were understandably delighted with the result, it was an afternoon of frustration for Irish, who blew two great chances when Blair Cowan and then Ciaran Hearn put down the ball with the try-line begging.
They now sit four points behind Newcastle having played a game more, but Coventry insists they will keep fighting to try to stay up.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” he said. “It’s a game of lost opportunities, it was pretty close but when you’re not that confident in your game.
“Some decisions didn’t work for us today. We’d done a lot of work on our drive this week and we thought we would be able to assert some pressure but obviously no points on the card.
“It came down to inches today, maybe those lost opportunities made more of a difference. There’s still 20 points up for grabs and we’ll be working very hard to make sure we’re still in the fight.”
Worcester Warriors: Pennell, Heem, Olivier, Mills, Vuna, Heathcote, Hougaard, Ruskin (Leleimalefaga 65), Annett (Bregvadze 65), Schonert (Johnston 51), O’Callaghan, Barry, Dowson (Sanderson 77), Kirwan (Cox 46), Van Velze
Not Used: Baldwin, Hammond, Grove
London Irish: Maitland, Fenby, Hearn, Williams (Brophy-Clews 65), Ojo (Mulchrone 41), Tonks, Steele (McKibbin 69), Court (Smallbone 41), Cruse (Paice 46), Aulika (Halavatau 67), Stooke (Sexton 61), Symons, Narraway, Cowan, McCusker (Treviranus 51)
Penalties: Heathcote 4
Penalties: Tonks 2
Referee: Greg Garner