Season Review: Worcester Warriors
After a difficult start to the season left them in a relegation scrap, Worcester Warriors secured their safety with a few games to spare and set a few club records on the way in what turned out to be a successful season at Sixways.
It was Alan Solomons’ first full campaign at the helm of the club and he was rewarded with a tenth-place finish in the Gallagher Premiership Rugby table, resulting in a new deal tieing him down until the end of 2021-2022 season.
With a home semi-final in the inaugural Premiership Rugby Cup competition and a Challenge Cup quarter-final also to their name, the Warriors can certainly be pleased with their progression.
It was a disappointing start to the season for Worcester, who narrowly lost their three opening encounters against Wasps, Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons.
However, they bounced back with a thrilling 44-37 bonus-point victory away at Leicester Tigers to secure their first win of the campaign.
In Round 6 they claimed their second win of the season after producing a scintillating display against Bristol Bears to thrash them 52-7.
As the season drew to a close, the Warriors ensured their safety in the Gallagher Premiership, beating Gloucester 27-20.
They finished off with a flourish, beating eventual champions Saracens with a last-gasp penalty on the final day of the campaign.
There were club records aplenty for Worcester this season, as they secured nine wins – equalling their best number in the top flight – and won 50 per cent of their matches in all competitions.
Their victory against Bristol in round six, in which they piled on 52 points in total, was a record Gallagher Premiership Rugby win for the side.
And Worcester’s performance at home against Gloucester, which secured their league status, saw an unbelievable defensive effort from the Warriors.
Gloucester piled on the pressure, but Worcester remained resilient and committed to the cause, and duly celebrated in front of their home crowd when safety had been achieved.
Attacking play was at the fore this season and the Warriors scored 56 tries, equalling their best total in the Premiership from two seasons ago as their brand of free-flowing rugby consistently caught the eye.
It was a successful season for Worcester, who scored their highest number of points in a Gallagher Premiership season with 491, thanks in-part to several standout performers.
Duncan Weir, who was playing in his maiden Gallagher Premiership Rugby season, scored 204 points for the Warriors and kicked 179 of those, including a club record 40 conversions.
It was also Weir’s boot that scored the last-gasp penalty on the final day of the season for Worcester to claim a 31-29 victory over Saracens.
Chris Pennell was one of only five players across all 12 teams to start all 22 Gallagher Premiership Rugby fixtures, making 1,372 metres and 275 carries throughout the campaign.
Josh Adams was only the second Warriors player to score a Gallagher Premiership Rugby hat-trick for the Warriors, after he dotted down three times in the 39-17 win against Sale Sharks.
England U20 international Ted Hill has put in a set of stellar performances in the 2018-19 season, throwing himself into the senior ranks.
The back-rower played 999 minutes for Worcester scoring six tries, including two in the victory over Leicester Tigers.
South African centre Francois Venter made 19 Gallagher Premiership Rugby appearances for the Warriors in his first season in the competition.
Venter also played a role in the Premiership Rugby Cup, scoring two tries in three appearances, as the side made it to the semi-finals of the competition.
Who’s in for 2019/20?
The Warriors have promoted Hill and Andrew Kitchener from their academy set-up, while Graham Kitchener will be joining his younger brother at Sixways next season after leaving Leicester Tigers.
Other new faces for the Warriors next season include Conor Carey, who joins from Connacht, Caleb Montgomery, who is coming from Ulster, Ed Fidow from Provence and Richard Palframan from London Scottish.
There’s also a trio of players making their way from the southern hemisphere as Melani Nanai and Matt Moulds join from Blues while Jono Kitto is leaving Northland.
Who’s out for 2019/20?
Several of Worcester’s stars are on their way out this summer with Josh Adams leaving to join the Cardiff Blues while Bryce Heem is on his way to Toulon.
Pierce Phillips is moving to Agen, Gareth Milasinovich is joining Ulster, Simon Kerrod is leaving to go to Harlequins and Jack Singleton is moving to Saracens.
A quartet of players have been released including England’s Ben Te’o, while Wynand Olivier and Dewald Potgieter have both retired from the sport.