Dean Ryan praised his side’s defensive performance after Worcester Warriors keept the ‘best attacking team’ in Aviva Premiership Rugby Harlequins try-less in a 21-15 victory at the Stoop
Wynand Olivier and GJ Van Velze both crossed in a first-half Warriors purple patch, while Quins could only reply through five Ben Botica penalties.
Ryan’s men held out to complete three back-to-back wins for the first time since 2007 and establish an eight-point advantage over 11th-placed Newcastle Falcons.
And former England No.8 Ryan acknowledges that his men are growing in confidence.
"I thought we were great defensively to deprive Harlequins of a try. They're probably the most dangerous side in the league on a dry day,” he said.
"We've stayed confident and we want to take this club in a different direction.
“I'm pleased for the club. Some people were jumping around when it wasn't working before Christmas but we stayed confident with it and kept working.
"They got a bit frustrated and that played into our hands. In the second-half we played with decent intent and we kept the ball off them.
“We were good defensively against the best attacking team in the league.”
Despite the importance of the result, Ryan suggested it was more than just reward for their efforts and he was pleased his young squad were starting to close out games after near-misses against Bath Rugby, Wasps and London Irish.
He said: "Losing games we should have won like the game against Wasps was hard. It's difficult to go into a changing room with a bunch of young lads who are desperate to win when you lose in the closing stages.
"We had a few opportunities which we didn't take and it wasn't one of our best performances.We just wanted to keep playing well and trust that that would get us through.
"You just keep doing your job well, keep supporting each other and keep pushing each other to get better."
Conor O’Shea, whose Harlequins side lost vital ground in the race for a top-four place, admitted his team were second best on the day.
But with Chris Robshaw, Joe Marler, Danny Care, Jack Clifford and Mike Brown all away on England duty, he hopes the return of his stars will reinvigorate their push up the table against fourth-placed Northampton Saints next weekend.
He said: "Worcester had a full strength team and were the more accurate.
“It's been an eight week window and been massively difficult for the players. It's been a one-off but we'll still fight to the bitter end.
"We have loads of injuries but we'll get our international players back and give it a real go at Northampton next week."
Harlequins: R Chisholm; Walker, Lowe (Marchant 75), Sloan, Cheeseman (Lindsay-Hague 50); Botica, Dickson; Lambert, Ward, Sinckler (Collier 62); Horwill, Twomey (Matthews, 57), Luamanu (Chisholm J 69), Wallace, Easter
Unused replacements: Gray, Evans, Tebaldi
Worcester Warriors: Pennell; Heem, Olivier, Mills (Symons 60), Biggs; Heathcote, Hougaard; Rapava Ruskin (Leleimalefaga 62), Annett, Schonert (Johnston 66); O'Callaghan, Barry, Dowson, Kirwan (Betty 57), van Velze
Unused replacements: Sowrey, Sanderson, Baldwin, Lamb.
Penalties: Botica 5
Tries: Olivier, van Velze
Penalties: Heathcote 3
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys