DESPITE Warriors conceding three tries in the opening 25 minutes to all but hand victory to Exeter, Dean Ryan insists his team did not make a slow start to the game.

The bullish Sixways director of rugby was adamant Worcester had dominated the opening exchanges and felt they were unlucky to be 21-3 behind after just 25 minutes.

Although Ryan is right that there were some bright signs from the hosts in the first quarter of the game, it is ridiculous to try to sugarcoat what was one of the worst defensive displays Warriors have produced in many a year.

The majority of the starting XV were guilty of lacking intensity and some of the tackling – or lack thereof – was laughable at times.

Then, as has been the case several times this season, they finally started to play something approaching decent rugby when the pressure was lifted because Exeter were out of sight.

Just as Exeter’s five try scorers had done during the game, Warriors saw their chances of securing a big boost in their battle for Premiership survival slip through their fingers at Sixways on Saturday.

Two bonus points was better than nothing, but that was a must-win game with daunting trips to Saracens and Bath still remaining this term.

“I don’t think we were slow out of the traps – that is wrong,” Ryan snapped back when asked about his side’s poor opening to the game.

“We dominated the first 20 minutes and then Dave Lewis broke through to score from their one piece of field position.

“That’s the sort of thing we can’t afford to do and the irony is that was probably our best attacking game, but probably our poorest understanding and adaptation in defence.

“We got concerned about their width and didn’t look after things around the front.

“Some of the tackling was poor because of understanding and that was frustrating because we had done a pretty good job in the week of knowing what was going to be coming at us.

“We didn’t see anything in the 80 minutes that we didn’t know about and that’s where people have got to be better.

“It’s not about reading the riot act.

“It’s about challenging people to be better and understanding that the things that come at them during the week are really important and they have to get them right.”

Ryan added: “That first-half wasn’t good enough – our attention to detail in defence was not good enough.

“That is something we have to deal with and look at growing as a team.

“It’s alright being a unified team, but we want to be a winning team and the two things go hand in hand.

“I thought the soft try we gave them just after half-time was nothing and I didn’t feel the 12-point deficit at that point was beyond us and we proved it wasn’t.

“But we kept giving them a bit more on top, so it kept getting further and further away.”