WORCESTER Warriors rounded off their first season back in the Aviva Premiership with a reality check against the European Champions Cup finalists.

Warriors have made progress over the course of the campaign and that was highlighted after the arrival of scrum-half Francois Hougaard during their club-record four-match winning run.

But the table doesn’t lie and a final position of 10th, above Newcastle Falcons and relegated London Irish but below Bath, is Warriors’ place in the pecking order.

Sam Vesty should be applauded for his work with the backs and the two first-choice wings Bryce Heem and Cooper Vuna are a potent attacking force.

And the arrival in the summer of powerful centre Ben Te’o, who is wanted by England head coach Eddie Jones, should add a new dimension to their back-line.

However, Warriors’ defensive frailties and lack of squad depth have been exposed in their last four matches with comprehensive defeats against the top four sides.

Warriors conceded 597 points during the campaign, just 23 less than Irish, and 178 from their final four matches.

Although Warriors’ scrum was under pressure for most of Saturday’s final game, which ended in a 43-19 defeat, it’s an area where the Sixways club have improved vastly during the term.

The calming influence of Hougaard, who is preparing for tournament duty with South Africa sevens, was sorely missed against the defending champions.

Tom Heathcote has looked full of confidence with Hougaard at his side but the fly-half resorted to kicking the ball too long against Sarries and Alex Goode had a field day as Chris Ashton scored a hat-trick.

Stand-in scrum-half Luke Baldwin was solid, passed well and delivered quick ball but he also put too much depth on some of his kicks which played to Sarries’ counter-attacking strengths.

Warriors went toe-to-toe with Sarries for most of the first half but when the visitors stepped up a gear in the closing minutes of the first period they put the game to bed with two quick-fire tries.

Andy Symons, making his last appearance in a Warriors shirt, used his power to score the first try, which Heathcote converted, but Sarries hit back almost immediately.

Charlie Hodgson collected a loose kick from Baldwin and combined with Goode, who offloaded for Neil De Kock to score in the corner.

Hodgson converted but missed a penalty soon afterwards.

Warriors responded with one of their best tries of the season, brilliantly finished off in the corner by Vuna after quick hands from Heathcote and Chris Pennell. Heathcote converted.

Goode played in Ashton for the first of his three tries and Hodgson’s penalty edged the visitors 15-14 ahead after 32 minutes.

But Sarries took a firm grip on the match with two converted tries before the interval.

Firstly, number eight Samu Vunisa was driven over from a line-out and then Ashton beat the sprawling Pennell to Goode’s well-judged kick through to earn the visitors a try bonus point.

Ashton completed his treble after the restart from a neat kick from Ben Ransom before Ransom dotted down after his hack through had bounced off the bottom of a post.

Warriors had rung the changes with Alex Grove all over the field in his farewell match for the club after 10 years and 153 first-team appearances.

Lock Dan Sanderson, also in his last match for Worcester, spurned a clear opportunity when he raced through and tried to chip the last defender Vunisa, who caught the ball, with Heem on the overlap.

And Grove had a hand in Warriors’ last try of the season from a move which had started with Ryan Lamb in their own 22.

Grove cleared the path for Heem with a block on a Sarries player in midfield and the wing took full advantage with a scorching run down the right.

The supporting Carl Kirwan was halted just short of the line and his offload was picked up by Vuna, who touched down to complete his ninth try of the season.