Rugby Union

Dean Ryan praises resilient Tom Heathcote

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Worcester coach Dean Ryan praised Tom Heathcote after his fly-half fired over a last gasp drop goal to sink Northampton at Sixways.

Heathcote had been wasteful with the boot before slotting the last kick drop goal which earned the home side a dramatic but deserved 13-12 win to open their Aviva Premiership account.

"Tom was very disappointed that he missed those penalty kicks but fair play to him, he stood up to the task and successfully pulled the trigger, when we could have easily gone through more phases," said Ryan.

"It was so good for him as he's bounced around a few clubs and he'll get a lot of confidence from this."

Ryan was delighted with his side's performance.

"We knew there was a gap between the Championship and the Premiership but we couldn't assess how big it was," the Warriors coach admitted.

"Tonight we saw it wasn't huge and it was an excellent reference point as we showed that we can complete physically," added Ryan.

"It's a nice four points for us as our scrum stood up to a powerful side and we had decent control but we can do even better."

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder accepted his side had played poorly.

"We were pedestrian and one-dimensional and have a lot of improving to do," he said.

"We didn't look after the ball and I lost count of how many times we turned over the ball.

"They could have easily scored a few more points in the second half as they defended very well and forced us into a number of errors and stopped us from getting on the front foot."

GJ Van Velze scored the only try of the game for the Warriors with Heathcote converting and kicking a penalty to add to his drop goal.

But he also missed three second half penalties, which could have proved crucial, before his last gasp winner.

Stephen Myler's four penalties were the sole response for a disappointing Northampton side.

Northampton lost Tom Stephenson and Christian Day with injuries during the game.

Mallinder confirmed that England squad members Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood and Calum Clark were all likely to return next week.

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