Three months ago I wrote in this column that Worcester had to find a way of reprogramming their tactical computer.
They had scored eight tries in 12 Premiership matches despite having two of the most dangerous wingers in the division.
That need is even more acute now, particularly given the fact those wingers, Marcel Garvey and Miles Benjamin, have decided to take their abilities elsewhere, not necessarily because they expect to be given more try-scoring opportunities in Castres and Leicester, but they hardly anticipate less.
And then came last Friday night and Warriors’ 19-9 win over Newcastle, which for nearly an hour was the most negative match I have seen in many years. It was like watching a Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield minus the mitigating conditions and passion.
Falcons’ sole method of advancing the ball was humping it into the night sky and chasing as if their shorts were on fire in the hope of winning a ruck penalty.
Worcester’s response? Do the same thing but not nearly so well. The dissent from those who had paid upwards of £30 to see their side tear the division’s worst team asunder was understandable.
Newcastle had conceded a league-high 50 tries and failed to win away this season. Surely this was the evening when Warriors’ try-starved players and supporters would be sated. They got one.
But Warriors’ conservatism was also understandable, they did not want to take any risks that would allow the visitors a toe-hold in a match that could turn both clubs’ campaigns.
The real issue was not the way they had chosen to play but the fact they were doing it badly. Had Shaun Perry, Andy Goode and Chris Pennell kicked well, turned their opponents and watched as the chasers mowed down the Newcastle back three, Worcester would have had abundant attacking platforms.
And what led to that safety-first mindset was the fear of another relegation scrap. Warriors’ top-flight renaissance is still in its infancy and it would be naive to expect them to come out of the Championship throwing caution to the wind.
I. for one, don’t want to watch the sort of bubblegum rugby dished out in the Super 15, nervy battles at both ends of the league are the lifeblood of British sport. But that said, Worcester are safe and their excuses have run out. They have four games left in which to show whether all their talk about wanting to play a wide game is genuine or mere lip service.