DEFENCE coach Simon Cross applauded his young Warriors side as they pipped Bristol to claim an opening win in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Sixways on Friday night.
Warriors burst out the blocks as youngster Josh Adams, who signed a professional first-team contract last week, bolted across the whitewash after just six minutes.
But Bristol responded with a try of their own through Giorgi Nemsadze, following a scrum near the hosts’ tryline, before Billy Searle added six points from the boot.
Adams then made another sublime run down the wing before teeing up Max Stelling to touch down just before half-time.
Adams got his second try just after the break, before new signing Michael Dowsett crossed for his début try and Stelling went on a blistering solo run to add Warriors’ fifth.
Bristol pushed for a late comeback when Jack Wallace, who was earlier sin-binned, strolled in to score and Tom Varndell crossed in the corner, but Warriors defended resiliently as the clock wound down to secure the win.
Both teams struggled to settle in the early exchanges, but after several turnovers Adams collected the ball in midfield and darted freely towards the tryline to open a 5-0 lead.
But fellow youngster Jamie Shillcock, who was picked to play at fly-half ahead of Tom Heathcote and Ryan Lamb, hit the left post from a close range conversion.
Bristol almost replied immediately as Varndell burst down the right flank, but a heroic tackle from Shillcock denied the winger.
It wasn’t long until Bristol found their way across the hosts’ tryline though, as Nemsadze dived over following a scrum on Warriors’ five metre line, which Searle converted to edge the visitors ahead at 7-5.
Searle further stretched Bristol’s advantage with two penalties, but Warriors’ youngsters continued to make an impact as Shillcock found Adams in midfield, with the latter offloading to Stelling in the far left corner to ground.
Shillcock again missed what seemed a simple conversion to leave the Sixways outfit trailing 13-10 at the interval.
In similar fashion to the first half, Adams scored his second try early in the second period following a breakaway run from Chris Pennell, before Shillcock added the extras.
With the momentum behind the hosts, Dowsett ripped through Bristol’s defence to cross the tryline with ease, which Shillcock converted.
Stelling bagged another impressive try for Warriors, before Wallace had a free run to the line to keep the visitors in the game.
Varndell then darted across the tryline in the far left corner to claw Bristol’s deficit back to just six points, setting up a nervous finale.
But despite late pressure, Warriors held on to claim all five points and their first win in five.
Warriors continue their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign with a trip to Coventry to take on Wasps this Sunday (kick-off 3pm).