The London Double Header may not have provided the dream result that Worcester Warriors were hoping for, but hooker Niall Annett insists his side’s improvements were there for all to see last Saturday.
Reigning Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Saracens were left frustrated for much of the first half at Twickenham – heading into the break with a slender 6-3 advantage – before turning the jets on in the latter stages.
The eventual gap between the two sides was 32 points and few could have blamed the Warriors for thinking the size of the scoreline was a tad unjust when they eventually left the field.
But according to Annett, a squad including new signings Ben Te’o and Maori All Black Jackson Willison is a far more robust unit after surviving their first 12 months of Aviva Premiership Rugby last season.
“We were ambitious and wanted to get a good result, but I think we can be pretty proud of our performance in the first 40,” said Annett.
“It was a big margin in the end, but when you reflect that they are probably the best team in Europe at the moment with some fantastic players, we have taken steps to narrow the gap compared to last year.
“One of the positives is that we’ve got good class coming off the bench and everyone has featured in Premiership Rugby now, like myself.
“About this time last year we had just played our first game in the league, and it’s pleasing because everyone has improved and we have more competition for places.
“We’ve got a couple of high profile players, Ben has come in and settled in really quickly and Francois (Hougaard) is to come back to strengthen the squad. The changes over the summer were above my pay grade but we have all reacted really well to it.
“We had some wobbles in pre-season and there were lots of little things to work on, but we’ve come together now and we are all behind Carl (Hogg)100 per cent.”
Worcester need no extra motivation for Round 2 as they welcome near-neighbours Gloucester Rugby to Sixways under the Friday Night Lights.
It proved even stevens between the two clubs in Aviva Premiership Rugby last season, and Annett believes his side can use the clash as a measuring stick for just how far they have come over the summer.
“We won one game each in the Premiership last year though they got both victories in Europe, but we used that to give some lads more opportunities for game time,” added the 25-year-old.
“The Prem games were really close both times and they have done some strengthening so it will be great to see where we are at compared to them.
“Every Premiership club wants to make their home ground a fortress and we are no different, we have a great record in front of our home fans – hopefully we can get a good start on Friday.”