Ruddock refuses to accept Worcester’s fate

Worcester coach Mike Ruddock remained upbeat despite a 23-13 loss to London Irish on Saturday that pushed his bottom of the table side nearer relegation from the English Premiership.

Only one club at the end of the season will drop down into the second tier of English rugby union and Worcester’s 12th defeat from 19 league games left them three points adrift of second-bottom Leeds.

Worcester now have three games left to preserve their top-flight status, including a potentially decisive clash against Leeds on April 25.

But former Wales boss Ruddock insisted the Midlands club could still stay up, saying: “We talked about having four battles ahead of us. We’ve lost the first one, and we need to regroup for the next one.

“We are not dispirited. The effort is there, the spirit is there, which gives me hope we can get ourselves out of the pickle we are in.

“It’s just that little bit of precision we have missed this season, and some of the errors we made went against us.”

England international brothers Delon and Steffon Armitage scored both of Irish’s tries at Worcester’s Sixways ground, with fly-half Chris Malone kicking 13 points, while the Warriors scored through Alex Grove’s early try touchdown that was converted by Willie Walker, who also kicked two penalties.

Victory took the Exiles into fourth place and kept them on course to be involved in the post-season playoffs that will determine the outcome of the English title race.

“To collect four points away from home, we can’t complain,” said Irish attack coach and England World Cup winner Mike Catt.

One consolation for Worcester on Saturday was that Leeds were thrashed 46-11 away to Harlequins.

Four of the London club’s six tries came in a nine-minute spell after 20-year-old Leeds flanker Calum Clark was sin-binned just after the hour for a clearly late tackle on Quins playmaker Nick Evans.

“Discipline is always key and we had a couple of bits of ill-discipline down to the fact you’ve got a young player trying his best and trying everything he can,” said Leeds coach Neil Back.

“But he did some silly things and the 10 minutes that player was on the bench was catastrophic,” the former England back-row added.

However, Back insisted: “It’s disappointing for the squad but it’s not a reflection of where Leeds Carnegie rugby are. That won’t happen again -we can’t afford it to happen again.

“We’re almost guilty of trying too hard. The players are desperate to consolidate our position in the Premiership.

“They played as individuals towards the back end of that game and made errors. Quins were smart and streetwise in the dark arts but it’s one we’ll learn from.”

Harlequins still have hopes of a top six finish but director of rugby Conor O’Shea said: “We’re up to seventh but it’s a big ask – Saracens away, Leicester away and Sale at home.”

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