WARRIORS head coach Jonathan Thomas praised how his young guns managed the game to secure a bonus point 36-26 win against Zebre which keeps them in the hunt for a place in the knockout stages of the EPCR Challenge Cup.
Warriors were tested by Zebre’s hefty pack in the first half but they were clinical in attack and their fitness and intelligent game management after the break proved decisive.
“I am absolutely chuffed for the players, we had 11 academy or homegrown players in the squad,” Thomas said.
“Italy is always a tough place to come whatever Italian team you play. We had some logistical issues in terms of travel which was tough and it was a really tough game.
“But I thought our fitness was really strong, we looked powerful in the second half, we had some really good defensive sets and our bench made an impact.
“I’m really proud. It’s a young team. I’m proud of the way they played and the way they managed the game and hopefully that gets us a last 16 spot, we will have to wait and see.”
Warriors will have to wait until April, when they sit out the final round of pool matches, to discover whether they have done enough to progress in the competition.
Before then Warriors face a run of seven straight Gallagher Premiership matches, starting with the visit of Northampton Saints to Sixways on Saturday (January 29), plus away trips to Exeter Chiefs and Bath Rugby in the Premiership Rugby Cup with a place in the semi-finals the prize.
“We are still on for semi-final place in the Prem Cup, hopefully a last 16 spot in the Challenge Cup and our goal is to play Champions Cup rugby and finish in the top eight in the Prem,” Thomas said.
“Those are still on. We are at the halfway point of the season. We have a lot of injured players to come back as well so it’s an exciting next few weeks.
“We go into a tough seven game bloc in the Prem but, bring it on, we are really looking forward to it.”
The win in Parma was Warriors’ first on the road in 16 months and came after several near-misses, notably a draw at Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership two months ago.
“Historically we don’t win away from home that much but we have been tough to beat away from home this season probably the Saracens game aside but we came away from that game with a try bonus point,” Thomas said.
“We have been unlucky not to come away with wins so it’s pleasing for the team that we have got a big five points away from home,” he added.