WARRIORS chief Alan Solomons has challenged his side to start better away from Sixways as they prepare to make the trip to the Ricoh Arena to face Wasps in their final Premiership Rugby Cup clash.
The Sixways side go into Saturday’s clash (3pm) on the back of a 34-19 defeat to Premiership big guns Exeter Chiefs last Friday – a performance hailed as ‘incredible’ by Warriors’ director of rugby.
Tom Howe’s hat-trick of tries was not quite enough to give Warriors victory but they gave Exeter an almighty fright in a ferocious Premiership Rugby Cup match under the new Sixways floodlights.
Howe crossed twice in the first half – the first from a driving maul and second from a superb sweeping attack – and completed his hat-trick when he followed up his own chip-and-chase seven minutes into the second half.
Despite an outstanding defensive effort from Warriors, Exeter denied them the consolation of a losing bonus point by scoring three close-range converted tries in the final 16 minutes.
“It was an incredible performance. They put out what was close to their strongest available side. We had a thread of experience in our team but we also had a lot of inexperienced players,” Solomons said.
“We made more than 300 tackles and a completion rate of 92 per cent. We also played with 14 men for 20 minutes and with three minutes to go we were only 20-19 down. The effort the players put in was remarkable.”
Saturday’s clash marks the end of the group stage of the competition and speaking yesterday (Tuesday) Solomons said the cup had served as preparation for all of English rugby’s top flight clubs.
“We have competition for places in the squad and over the four games we have tried to give everyone who is fit and available the opportunity to showcase their talent,” he said.
The South African chief revealed he expected a tough challenge at the Ricoh Arena and said he expected Wasps to field their strongest available 15.
“We have to start better when we are playing away. That is something we spoke about after the Bath match and it is something we need to address,” he said.
Solomons confirmed Nick Schonert will be out for at least three months with a grade two tear of a collateral medial ligament.
“His right knee is in a brace. Premiership regulations allow injury dispensation for a player who is out for in excess of 12 weeks and that is something that we are considering,” he said.