Warriors used their new weapon of mass destruction, a 12-man maul, to devastating effect to flatten Harlequins and secure their first bonus point win of the season.
Warriors unveiled the tactic at Wasps last Friday, scored one try but used it sparingly. Here they employed it often and effectively, shunting Harlequins back from a series of five metre lineouts and scoring four tries, all of them in the first half.
The win gave Warriors a first double over Harlequins in 15 years and secured a first Premiership win of 2020 after several agonising near misses.
It was also a triumph for the new coaching team of Jonathan Thomas, Mark Irish, Matt Sherratt and Jonny Goodridge. Director of Rugby Alan Solomons said in the build-up that Warriors would have to match Harlequins physicality to get the win and they did more than that.
The win was the perfect way for Anton Bresler to celebrate his 50th Warriors appearance. Bresler was given the honour of leading out the team and although the shy and quietly-spoken lock may have been reluctant to do so it was thoroughly deserved.
The only blemish on an otherwise excellent performance from Warriors was the huge penalty count against them at the breakdown in the second half although Harlequins handed some of those back as a result of the relentless pressure they were put under in the scrum.
Warriors needed only five minutes to take a firm grip on the game when Duncan Weir kicked a penalty to the corner, the outstanding Graham Kitchener claimed the lineout and the 12-man maul muscled Cornell du Preez over for the try which Weir converted.
A repeat dose followed seven minutes later, Kitchener again securing the lineout and the mass maul producing a try for Ollie Lawrence, probably the shortest distance the centre has ever had to cover for a try.
Harlequins knew what was coming when Weir thumped another penalty into the corner but they could not halt the juggernaut with Niall Annett emerging from a heap of bodies with the ball although this time referee
Jack Makepeace sought confirmation from TMO Tom Foley before the try was awarded.
Weir added the conversion before aggressive defence forced Harlequins into a series of errors which led to Warriors’ bonus point try.
This time there was a slight variation on a theme as Weir found touch in the right-hand corner. Kitchener again claimed the lineout, the 12 man maul shunted Quins back but this time the ball was released to Francois Hougaard who darted over close to the posts with Weir adding the extras.
Warriors struggled to maintain the momentum in a scruffy second half with a high penalty count at the breakdown negating dominance at the set piece.
Weir kicked a 47th minute penalty as an insurance policy and it proved to be Warriors’ only points of the second period.
Harlequins rallied in the final quarter with Chris Ashton going over for a kick-and-rush try and replacement hooker Elia Elia then brushed the whitewash when Quins employed a driving maul of their own.
But Warriors also defended ferociously for long periods and will head to Sandy Park for Sunday’s tough assignment against Exeter Chiefs in good heart.
Although the match was again played behind closed doors, the non-playing members of Warriors’ squad did their best to replicate the Sixways Roar, cheering loudly and giving the team a rousing ovation to celebrate the win.
Warriors | 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Ollie Lawrence (Beck 51), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Noah Heward, 10 Duncan Weir (Searle 56), 9 Francois Hougaard (Simpson 77), 1 Ethan Waller (Black 67-77), 2 Niall Annett (Cutting 63), 3 Nick Schonert (Palframan 67), 4 Anton Bresler (A Kitchener 54), 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Ted Hill (C), 7 Matt Kvesic, 8 Cornell du Preez (Lewis 60).
Replacements | 16 Beck Cutting, 17 Callum Black, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Ashley Beck.
5m | Du Preez try 5-0
6m | Weir con 7-0
12m | Lawrence try 12-0
28m | Annett try 17-0
29m | Weir con 19-0
39m | Hougaard try 24-0
40m | Weir con 26-0
47m | Weir pen 29-0
61m | Ashton try 29-5
62m | Laing con 29-7
74m | Elia try 29-12
75m | Laing con 29-14