Worcester director of rugby Gary Gold heaped praise on half-backs Ryan Mills and Francois Hougaard after Warriors pulled off a shock 24-18 win over Aviva Premiership champions Saracens at Sixways.
Mills kicked all of the hosts’ points with his eight penalties from nine attempts, securing him a club record for points in a Premiership fixture.
His partnership with former South Africa scrum-half Hougaard kept Saracens firmly on the back foot, with the pair’s astute kicking penning the visitors in their own half.
“Francois and Ryan were the generals out there as our objective was to not let them have opportunities in our own half,” Gold said.
“Severe discipline from both of them kept Saracens in the right areas of the field and Hougaard has world-class ability and is pivotal to us as he has strong influence on the squad. I’m not surprised that opposition target him.
“Ryan is a natural 12 and he is only filling in at 10 but we don’t want to chop and change the team too much.”
Worcester’s surprise win took them five points clear of Bristol at the bottom of the table, with the Sixways fixture between the strugglers on March 5 looking crucial in the battle to avoid the drop.
Gold added: “I’m proud of the guys as they had to take in a lot of information in a short space of time. [Saturday’s match] was all about showing the fans that we care. As long as we showed fight, the result wasn’t as important.
“We didn’t want to do anything flash and there wasn’t any scientific in our tactics but we needed to shore up our defence.
“It’ll prove to the boys that they can do it but the issue is whether we are able to repeat it and it’s not a one-off as we have to play many of the good teams in the Premiership in our remaining fixtures.”
An out-of-sorts Saracens still managed to score the only tries of the game, with Chris Ashton and Schalk Brits crossing.
Alex Lozowski kicked a penalty and a conversion with Ben Spencer’s late penalty securing his side a scarcely deserved bonus point.
Their director of rugby Mark McCall said: “It was very disappointing but all credit to Worcester, who pressurised and harassed us throughout.
“Our set-piece was very poor, particularly in the first half, as we couldn’t gain a platform.
“We chased the game too early, our discipline was bad and they kicked very well to keep us on the back foot.”
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Gold heaps praise on Hougaard, Mills
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