Gordon Ross hailed his young Warriors team after they came close to upsetting Exeter Chiefs in the quarter-finals of the Premiership Rugby Sevens Cup at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton on Saturday.
Warriors were beaten 31-26 by a try from Exeter’s Max Bodilly – his third of the match – in sudden death extra-time after the sides were level at 26-26 at the end of normal time.
Although there was disappointment at missing out on a re-match with defending champions Saracens – who edged out Warriors in their second Pool A match on Friday night – Ross, who took charge of the side with his fellow Academy coach Mike Hill, was proud of his young team.
“The feeling afterwards was one of huge disappointment but from a group point of view, from a squad that came together on Friday at four o’clock they were outstanding. We couldn’t have asked more of them,” Ross said.
“We beat Sale more comfortably than the scoreline suggests and we were unlucky against Saracens. Today we put our most complete performance together.
“We changed things around a bit more in selection. We had guys with a bit more gas on the pitch at the end.
“We should have won but it was a great experience. We had Ollie Wynn, who is 17 and still at school, playing for us, guys from other club desperate to come and play for us as guest players and they have all bought into it. We cannot fault them for effort.”
Wynn, a member of Warriors’ Under-18 Academy team and a student at Bromsgrove School, impressed against Exeter as he scored a brilliant individual try himself and set up another for Gareth Simpson.
“Ollie was outstanding, we think a lot of him. He was excellent not just his skill level in attack but his defence, his decision-making, he was running breakdowns from kick-offs, he was counter-rucking, he was superb,” Ross said.
“He’s a pretty level-headed kid and he has a good family support around him and will try to keep encouraging him as a club.”
The tournament gave Warriors fans a first sight of back row forward Caleb Montgomery, a summer recruit from Ulster, and former Saracens centre Oli Morris and encouraging returns to action after lengthy injury lay-offs by Nick David and Luke Scully.
“That was Caleb’s first appearance for Warriors and he should be really proud of his effort. He did really well. We looked after him and he did brilliantly,” Ross said.
“Oli was also really, really good in his first appearance for the club and two guys coming back from injury, Nick and Luke, should be really proud of their efforts. We are proud of them as management, they all represented the club brilliantly and it bodes well for the future.”