A LACK of discipline proved costly for Saracens as they crashed to a 24-18 defeat at lowly Worcester in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday.
Although a combination of injuries and international call-ups forced Sarries to field a severely depleted side, they were still expected to be too strong for a home side who are facing a real battle to avoid the drop.
However, the reigning champions produced a horribly below-par display and were made to pay for repeatedly falling foul of the officials as Ryan Mills slotted over eight penalties to give Worcester a shock win.
“We got what we deserved as we weren’t good enough,” said director of rugby Mark McCall. “Our set-piece wasn’t at its best and our penalty count tells its own story. When you go behind in a game like that, sometimes you chase the game and we made a lot of errors – it’s very disappointing.
“Worcester kicked very well and I thought their half backs were very good, but there are a number of aspects of our game that we’re disappointed with.”
Mills failed to find the target with a fourth-minute penalty as Sarries were put under pressure from the start, but that was to prove his only miss of the afternoon and the fly-half did slot over a penalty five minutes later to give the hosts the lead.
Further indiscipline from the visitors resulted in Mills doubling Worcester’s lead, and Saracens were then reduced to 14 men on 27 minutes when Mike Ellery was sin-binned for a late tackle on Francois Hougaard.
Mills slotted over the resulting penalty, but Sarries made light of their numerical disadvantage and finally opened their account courtesy of the first try of the match on 35 minutes.
An impressive driving maul took play into the Worcester 22, from where Richard Wigglesworth delivered a perfectly judged kick which Chris Ashton raced on to before touching down.
Alex Lozowski converted, but Worcester hit back and Mills’ fourth successful penalty left them 12-7 ahead at the interval.
Lozowski missed a penalty in the early stages of the second half before the two kickers found the target in quick succession to leave the outcome in the balance with just under 30 minutes remaining.
However, Sarries’ penalty count continued to rise at an alarming rate and three more successful kicks from Mills enabled the hosts to open up a commanding 24-10 advantage with time running out.
The visitors refused to lie down though and they gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Schalk Brits grabbed a pushover try on 72 minutes.
Ben Spencer was unable to add the conversion though to leave them two scores behind, and although he did slot over a late penalty, it was only enough to give Sarries a losing bonus point as the hosts deservedly held on for the win.
Saracens make the trip to Gloucester on Friday (7.45pm).
Worcester: Adams, Heem, Olivier, Willison, Humphreys, Mills, Hougaard, Bower, Singleton (Bregvadze 57), Schonert (Alo 62), O’Callaghan (Cavubati 74), W Spencer, Vui, Lewis (Mama 65), Faosiliva.
Saracens: Gallagher (Malins 66), Ashton, Tompkins (Bosch 55), Barritt, Ellery, Lozowski, Wigglesworth (B Spencer 55), Barrington (Lamositele 46), Brits, du Plessis (Figallo 41), Rhodes, Hamilton, Fraser (Brown 55), Burger, Wray.