Boss Mike Ruddock insisted there was no need to panic after Worcester Warriors suffered a 25-3 defeat to Ulster Rugby in the pre-season clash at Sixways Stadium on Friday night.
Warriors were unlucky to be behind at the break after a controversial opening try of the game before the Magners League side pulled away in the second period.
Ruddock’s men now have just over a week before the opening Guinness Premiership game of the season with Northampton Saints on Sunday, September 6.
And the Director of Rugby is convinced his side showed enough promise and ability in the first half against Ulster to go into the new campaign with real optimism.
“What we wanted to do was play our strongest panel in the first 50 minutes and then we would start to make some changes to have good health ready for next week,” said Ruddock.
“They scored a try in the first five minutes which was good play by them, although we want to look at the video as we felt we were blocked out and obstructed for the try.
“After that we came back strongly and had all the possession and all the territory, they had a man in the bin and we camped on their line for ten minutes.
“If we are honest, we should have been more clinical there and should have scored at least one try to go in at half-time ahead.
“I’m certainly not going to panic,” he added. “Last year we put 70 points on Moseley, beat Ulster at Ravenhill and then went down to Northampton and played like a drain.
“There are no points awarded and there is no league table, play-offs and relegation in pre-season. It is part of your preparation and our focus was to try and be better in the tackle area. I thought in the first half we achieved that.
“I felt in terms of dominating possession and territory, looking like we had good organisation in attack and defence, it was pretty good.
“They scored their second try from a breakdown situation, although looking back at the tape we felt their guy was offside when he picked up the ball.
“However, we were very loose second half and lacked cohesion, Ulster got on top. Most of that is perhaps they pressed hard in defence and we made a lot of changes as well.”
Ruddock admitted the interpretation of the tackle area had caused both sides issues and called for clarity from officials ahead of the new season to stop teams being denied the chance to play open rugby.
“We needed some help off the referee with the tackler rolling away,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of open rugby played because I felt the tackle area was a bit of a problem for both sides, there was no real quick ball and a lot of kicking at times.
“The referees have simply got to get the tackler to roll away, without that there is not going to be too much rugby and there will be a lot of kicking.”
Warriors rang the changes in the second half of the home encounter with the new season fast approaching on the horizon.
Ruddock admitted that had impacted on the result but also that he side had come close in the first half to crossing the line on more than one occasion.
“I had to make a decision whether to try and salvage the game in the second half and keep my big guns on, or carry on with my plan which was to take guys off and make sure I have a full squad to pick from next week,” he said.
“I decided to put some of the youngsters on and Ulster proved a bit too strong, the last try typified that and we are disappointed to concede a maul in front of our own fans from five metres out.
“But there were a lot of young guys who perhaps have got to experience the hurt of that first to realise it shouldn’t happen to them again.
“I look back and know we could have scored three tries in the first half, they had one chance in the first half that they nailed,” he added.
“Willie Walker got over the try line in the first half and it wasn’t given as he was held up, we had a scrum on their line five metres out and we could have scored off that and Willie chipped over the top and Miles Benjamin hacked on before Alex Grove just knocked the ball dead.
“You could say we lacked penetration because we didn’t score, but we had three opportunities to score and on another day we would have got one of those.
“Second half we are disappointed – we are not trying to shirk that. But I had to make a decision to leave boys on, battle and pick up bumps and bruises or take them off.”