Dean Ryan issues stark Worcester warning after defeat at London Irish
Director of rugby Dean Ryan says Worcester Warriors need to turn around their form and fast after admitting London Irish and Newcastle Falcons currently hold the cards in the battle at the bottom.
Worcester remain 10th in the Aviva Premiership but the Exiles are now just a point behind - alongside Newcastle - thanks to a fine display in a 20-13 win at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.
Ciaran Hearn and Andy Fenby scored the tries for Irish and, allied to Shane Geraghty's 10 points from the tee, it was enough to secure an important victory.
Worcester kept them honest through second-half Bryce Heem and Val Rapava-Ruskin efforts but Ryan believes his side were a deserved, and worrying, second best for much of the afternoon.
"Halfway through the season and we're in a fight against three others, I don't think we can hide and hope we might get away from them," said Ryan.
"This was the opportunity to put some space between us and we missed it, so we're in the fight and, if I'm honest, the other two sides have probably got the momentum at the moment.
"I thought the first 40 minutes was terrible. I can't quite put my finger on it. We just had a revolving door for 40 minutes which unsettled everybody and we froze a little bit.
"I'm making things up to try to find the word for what it looked like because I just don't recognise it. It's unacceptable in a game of this magnitude to not have the energy that we've had."
Irish have now won two of their last three Aviva Premiership games and can do the double over Northampton next week, having picked up their first league win of the season against the midlands side on Boxing Day.
Assistant coach Clark Laidlaw said: "I never thought it was going to be easy. In a tight game like that, I was never sure a team was going to pull away.
"Apart from last weekend (against Sale), when we were really disappointed with the way we played, the last six weeks have been pretty encouraging. We had opportunities in the first half (for the bonus point), but I'd have probably just taken the win at the start of the day. I think we left a few out there, but we might need those tries another day so we'll save them up.
"We play Northampton next week and then we've got a six-day turnaround, so that's pretty tough on the body. We've got 15 guys on the injury list, so the same guys are going to have to suit up next week."