DEAN Ryan was proud of his players’ efforts in the narrow defeat at Harlequins after what he described as “a raw week” at Sixways.

The embattled director of rugby pulled no punches in delivering some home truths to his under-performing squad last week.

However, he was happy with the reaction Worcester produced in pushing a good Harlequins side to the limit at The Stoop.

He said: “I was just really proud of the guys. It was a raw week for us and we were pretty public with how disappointed we were last week and that made things raw.

“I was hoping we could get ourselves back together and get the right response and I’m really proud that we did. It was a tremendous effort.

“The third quarter hurt us a bit. They came after us and we were struggling physically to cope with such a small group. You can see when we start rolling the bench that things get a bit ragged and we couldn’t really stem the flow.

“It was a nice try at the end and smart play from (Paul) Warwick to make sure we got field position and a chance to win the game.

“I think we’re still fighting like mad and I believe we have a chance if we can get something in our back pockets before we go to the north-east (to play Newcastle).

“We’re short in ability when you compare us to Northampton and Leicester and Quins so if a small group don’t work at the maximum then we fall off a cliff and it’s tough every week to be at that level.

“There isn’t any lack of work-rate from that group. This club just needs to make sure that remains central to everything it does.

“Then it expands its squad and gets its squad in the right position so it can do this type of thing regularly and then it can grow the club in the way we plan.”

Ryan added: “I was frustrated last weekend but I just ask people at this club to give everything they can so I only feel proud of the effort that group are able to expend.

“It’s frustrating when we can’t do it week in week out but it wasn’t one of those days.

“Mike Williams put in a great shift, Sam Betty puts himself on the line every time. We had a lot of people working – Ravai and Grovesy worked hard.”

Ryan was also impressed by Quins’ Worcester-bound winger Sam Smith, who scored one try and made another against his future employers.

He added: “We haven’t bought anyone we haven’t done massive due diligence on.

“The club as a whole going forward is one of massive aspiration and the people here really want to be at the top of their game.

“Sometimes really promising talent like Sam can get trapped behind some high-profile names and we’ve done that. Sam and Ryan Mills are a classic two of what we want that club to look like.

“I’m just dealing with the here and now at the moment. We know that with the people coming next year, we’re really excited about them and I’m fighting like mad to make sure we’ve got something still going this year.”