WARRIORS head coach Carl Hogg has challenged his side to bounce back from a ‘disappointing’ defeat to Bath by qualifying for the latter stages of the European Challenge Cup.
Pro 14 side Connacht are the visitors to Sixways this Saturday (kick off 3pm) and another victory will move Warriors a step closer to the knockout stages.
Warriors lie second in Pool 5, seven points behind Connacht and five points ahead of Brive, and another win would leave them well placed to go into the quarter-finals.
Hogg warned Saturday’s clash would be a tough clash against the 2016 Pro12 champions
“Connacht won the Pro12 quite recently, they like to hold the ball and apply pressure so they’ll be tough,” said Hogg.
“European competition lets us to take a step away from the Premiership and allows us to look at different aspects and expand.
“Friday’s loss to Bath was disappointing. We lost out in collisions and physicality and we weren’t at the levels we expect of ourselves.
“This week we’ll be looking for a reaction from the players and every one of them wants to get back out there.
“We can qualify for the knockout stages of European Challenge Cup and we need to win our home games. This week is a big opportunity and it’s about how we react.”
Warriors’ new signing Anton Bresler, who has joined from Edinburgh, is not registered for the competition but Hogg confirmed he would look to get the Namibian-born second row involved in the Anglo-Welsh Cup clashes at the end of January.
The head coach also paid tribute to back row Huw Taylor who will leave Sixways at the end of the season to join Pro14 club Dragons.
Taylor, who came through the club’s academy, has made 24 first-team appearances since his debut in 2014 and was part of the Warriors side which lifted the B&I Cup trophy in 2015.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Sixways and have made some lifelong friends along the way,” he said.
“I would like to thank the Academy coaches, first-team coaches and my teammates for their support over the last few years and wish the club well in the future.”
Hogg praised Taylor’s rise through the ranks but highlighted the competition in the back row with a host of international-class players.
“Every player wants to play first-team rugby. Huw’s sought a different pathway and we wish him well and hopefully he becomes successful.”