Warriors boss Mike Ruddock praised the 'guts and determination' of his young guns as they impressed against Harlequins - but admitted a sky high penalty count had proven costly in Guinness Premiership defeat at Twickenham Stoop.
Director of Rugby Ruddock was forced to name five debutants in his starting line-up due to injuries and the intensity of Warriors having to play three top-flight games in just six days.
Warriors were on the wrong end of a high penalty count - plus two yellow cards - as they were forced to play a quarter of the game at a numerical disadvantage against a near full strength home side.
However, Ruddock was left delighted as his new-look youthful side - that included full league debuts for Michael Penn, Greg King, Shaun Ruwers, David Lyons and Jack Gilding - stunned the hosts with two well worked tries and cut the lead to just five points before the final half hour saw Harlequins pull clear.
"We knew it was going to be tough, we are stretched with injuries, but I felt we showed real guts and determination," said Ruddock.
"The difference between the two teams showed in the final half hour. But the young lads put their hands up and showed that many of them can be a part of the future at Warriors.
"In the first half we were very competitive and made chances and forced Quins into errors.
"I know we had a young team with five debutants and a lack of cohesion but our average penalty count has been 10.4 per game this season and against Quins we conceded 24 full penalties and two free kicks.
"We also had two yellow cards so spent a quarter of the game without a full back row. Quins are a quality team and you can't keep defending against them. You can't play 80 minutes at that intensity with a high penalty count against you.
"We had no option but to rotate the squad because of the midweek fixture. Quins came at us strongly to maximise the opportunity and they did that in the final quarter of the game.
"I spoke to the youngsters after the game and said while they were committed the gulf showed towards the end.
"But that was a fantastic experience for them and they now know the standards, in terms of fitness and intensity, which are required to make it in the Guinness Premiership."
Warriors are next in action against Saracens at Sixways Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) and Ruddock is determined to unleash his big guns for what is sure to be a huge encounter.
"It is very difficult for us to front up three times in six days and we are looking over our shoulder," he added.
"We now have a massive game on Saturday and the selection at Quins was with that in mind. We have some walking wounded at the moment but we will get the best team we can on the pitch at Sixways and aim to hit the levels we did to beat Gloucester.
"Bristol are a fine team and they are starting to play well now - but it is in our hands."
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