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London (AFP) – Worcester director of rugby Steve Diamond has revealed his players voted on whether to continue with Saturday’s game against Newcastle before defeating the Falcons in what could be their last home game in the Premiership.
Worcester, saddled with debts of more than £25m ($28m, €28m), including an unpaid £6m tax bill, has until Monday to avoid the suspension of all the competitions.
But that will only happen if they can convince England’s ruling Rugby Football Union that they have the required insurance cover, the funds to cover salaries and a credible plan to end their financial crisis.
Despite all the off-field turmoil, Worcester were superb in a 39-5 rout of Newcastle at Sixways, with the Warriors on five tries thanks to wingers Alex Hearle and Duhan van der Merwe, scrum-half Gareth Simpson, substitute flanker Matt Kvesic and lock Joe Batley.
Fly-half Billy Searle scored the rest of Worcester’s points, with Newcastle managing just one early try from George McGuigan.
But with many Worcester players and staff not having received their full salaries for the month of August, Diamond felt it was only fair to ask them on Friday if they wanted to continue the game.
“We had a vote yesterday to play or not,” he explained. “It was virtually unanimous that we played.”
Diamond added: “I gave them the option not to play because it’s a big risk if we were to be suspended on Monday, but they told a man their loyalty to the club determined them to play.”
England’s Owen Farrell threw back-to-back conversions as Saracens came back late to beat Gloucester 41-39.
Saracens were 12 points behind with 10 minutes remaining at home before substitute hooker Tom Woolstencroft completed two tries on lineout drives.
But Sarries still needed both conversions to move forward.
England fly-half and center Farrell duly delivered, with the second of those kicks the final act of the game.
“I’m not sure we’d rather anyone else kick the ball. He’s done it time and time again,” said Saracens supremo Mark McCall. “He lives for those moments.”
Northampton manager Phil Dowson must have regretted his team’s lack of discipline after a 41-21 East Midlands derby defeat to Leicester.
Saints were twice 11 points clear but three players were then shown yellow cards as Leicester, dominating from the scrum, fought back.
“Pressure will lead to bad discipline, bad discipline will lead to punishment and I think I saw that today,” Dowson said.
Bristol remained unbeaten with a 40-36 victory over London Irish, the first time since 1999 that they have won their first three games of a Premiership season.
“We got off to a poor start at 10-0 but took a huge lead (26-10) at half-time,” said Bristol boss Pat Lam.
“I’m happy but not satisfied, although we got five points, which is the most important thing.”
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