Worcester Warriors 13 Northampton Saints 12: Tom Vickers’ review and player ratings

Former Saints flanker Phil Dowson enjoyed a superb debut for Worcester (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Former Saints flanker Phil Dowson enjoyed a superb debut for Worcester (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

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If the first game of last season was a runaway train, this was one stuck in the station, struggling to start.

Because while Saints steamrollered Gloucester 53-6 on Aviva Premiership opening night last September, this time they stuttered under the Sixways lights.

While they scored seven tries against the Cherry and Whites, they never looked like scoring one against the Warriors.

Hampered by handling errors and slow ball, they simply never got going.

Somehow, they almost got out of jail as Stephen Myler superbly landed a penalty one minute from time to give his team a two-point lead.

But, as they had done all night, Saints coughed up the ball and Worcester gave Tom Heathcote the chance to be the hero with a final-kick drop goal.

Sam Dickinson was in the thick of the action

Sam Dickinson was in the thick of the action

The scenes of jubilation were far from surprising as Sixways celebrated a sizeable win.

Just as they had in last season’s Championship play-off final - when Bristol were beaten by the last kick of the game - the Warriors fought to the end.

And the victory was no less than they deserved, having missed four penalties during the second half.

The club’s official Twitter account roared: “Sixways is the place of drama and the place of dreams.”

Saints skipper Lee Dickson endured a frustrating night

Saints skipper Lee Dickson endured a frustrating night

But for Saints, so used to winning there, it had turned into the Theatre of Nightmares.

Last season’s table-toppers had been turned over by a newly-promoted team.

And they only had themselves to blame.

But as last season showed, it only takes a week to turn things around.

Luther Burrell was one of Saints' better players

Luther Burrell was one of Saints' better players

Because after Saints smashed Gloucester at Franklin’s Gardens, they suffered a stodgy defeat to Wasps on the following weekend.

So it is dangerous to read too much into one game.

And it was never going to be easy to face the fired-up Warriors in their first match back in the top flight.

But the worry was that had an alien observed the game, he would have believed Worcester, who were inspired by a superb display from former Saints star Phil Dowson, were the ones who topped the Premiership last season.

Saints looked like the league new boys, needing time to adjust to their new surroundings.

But they have had their shot in the arm now.

Jon Fisher tried to use his power to turn things around

Jon Fisher tried to use his power to turn things around

And they must be better for it against Newcastle Falcons at stadium:mk next Saturday.

How they rated...

BEN FODEN

Did his best to get Saints going, but it was a tough night for the backs with such slow ball at every breakdown... 5

KEN PISI

One key handling error cost Saints during the first half and though he did well to stop the powerful Cooper Vuna on a couple of occasions, he never really got into the game... 4

TOM STEPHENSON

Was forced off just a minute into the second half. Up to then, he had tried to use his clever footwork to unlock Worcester, but without reward... 5

LUTHER BURRELL

One of Saints’ better players, the centre tried to use his brute force to get his team some territory. One penalty-winning tackle on Tom Biggs was a highlight... 6

JAMIE ELLIOTT

Couldn’t get into the game and was often forced to run down fruitless alleys as Worcester shut the main doors... 4

STEPHEN MYLER

Made all four of his kicks, including the one that looked to have won it for Saints, and did try to get his team on the front foot at every opportunity... 6

LEE DICKSON

The frustrated shake of the head when he was replaced said it all. A tough night for the new skipper, whose box-kicking game failed to yield rewards... 4

ALEX WALLER

Made a couple of useful carries and did not have a bad night in the scrum, but Worcester’s forward pack stood up to the Saints threat... 5

DYLAN HARTLEY

Showed plenty of desire as he tried to drive the team on, but Worcester made life difficult for Saints... 5

KIERAN BROOKES

Made a decent first impression, showing power in the scrums and popping up to carry well on a number of occasions... 6

MICHAEL PATERSON

Got through plenty of dirty work, pouring everything he had into the game, but it wasn’t to be enough... 5

CHRISTIAN DAY

So often has such a sizeable impact on Saints, he was unable to exert his usual influence on the game and was forced off with a shoulder injury... 5

JAMIE GIBSON

Saints’ stand-out player, the debutant showed spirit and power as he did everything he could to push Worcester back... 7

JON FISHER

Moved to seven to cover for the loss of Calum Clark and tried to bulldoze the Worcester rearguard, but they stood tall... 5

SAM DICKINSON

Did some important work defensively and wasn’t scared to take Worcester on, even if the support was limited at times... 6

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

GEORGE PISI (for Stephenson 41)

Got an earlier than expected chance to make an impact, but he couldn’t really influence the game... 5

TEIMANA HARRISON (for Day 50)

Always adds energy, but Saints were under the cosh in the second half and he had to do a lot of defensive work... 5

CHRON STAR MAN: Phil Dowson (Worcester Warriors)

Worcester defended superbly at Sixways

Worcester defended superbly at Sixways