DIRECTOR of rugby Gary Gold admits the Worcester Warriors side that lost 35-26 to Munster is close to what will run out at Newcastle Falcons for next week’s Aviva Premiership opener.

Sam Olver, Dean Hammond, Wynand Olivier and Perry Humphreys crossed the whitewash in an impressive first-half performance on Thursday night.

Warriors failed to build on their half-time 26-14 lead as Irish giants Munster scored three converted tries without reply to snatch victory.

But Gold took satisfaction from his team’s showing and expects “70 to 80 per cent” of the starting line-up at Sixways to face Falcons next Friday (7.45pm).

“I am disappointed that the result did not go our way, but massively satisfied with the performance,” Gold said.

“We had some objectives as we knew we would be making mass changes during the course of the second half which would be disruptive, but the guys stuck to their task.

“The final scoreboard was a little bit unfortunate, but for the first 60 minutes when we pretty much kept the team that we started on we were very competitive and had a decent lead.

“There were a lot of good things against a world-class team, so I am really proud of the guys.”

Asked how close the team against Munster was to the starting 15 that would face Falcons, Gold replied: “Seventy or 80 per cent.

“There will be a couple of tough selection decisions, but we will have to re-group on Monday and see how that is going to go.”

Newly-appointed captain Donncha O’Callaghan led Warriors out against his former club, but the visitors soon opened the scoring.

After just four minutes, Munster broke down the left with hooker Rhys Marshall who fed inside to Tommy O’Donnell to score. Tyler Bleyendaal converted.

But when Jean Kleyn was sin-binned on 16 minutes for a high tackle on ex-Munster scrum-half Peter Stringer, Warriors took full advantage.

Almost immediately Olver crossed the whitewash after Warriors’ forwards laid a strong platform from a lineout.

Warriors were full of running and added a second try on 25 minutes when Dean Hammond intercepted a pass from Billy Holland and ran in under the posts. Olver added the extras.

Kleyn returned to the field with his side 12-7 down and they fell further behind following a slick passing move. The ball went through a number of hands before Olivier burst over for a well-deserved try, which Olver converted.

Munster cut back the deficit when Gerbrandt Grobler managed to do enough to fend off a tackle from Hammond and release Duncan Williams to score.

But Warriors had the final say in the half as Humphreys was the quickest to react to a crossfield kick from Olver and touched down.

But Olver’s conversion was the last score for Warriors as Munster began to gain the upperhand in a second half disrupted by replacements.

Williams bagged his second, with Bleyendaal converting, on 56 minutes before the away side’s pressure really started to tell in the closing stages.

Warriors, who had made 13 changes in the second period, tried to hang on to their four-point advantage.

But after holding the lead for 50 minutes Warriors’ defence finally cracked as Liam O’Connor borrowed over in the corner.

In the final play of the game James Hart then sealed victory for the Pro12 outfit with a push-over try. Ian Keatley converted both.

Warriors: Adams (Shillcock 55); Humphreys (Howard 60), Olivier (Butler 60), Willison (Howe 60), Hammond; Olver (Heathcote 52), Stringer (Arr 52); Bower (Wrafter 63), Singleton (Taufete'e 52), Alo (Thorp 63), O'Callaghan (c) (Scotland-Williamson 58), Phillips (Barry 58), Cox, Lewis (Taylor 52), 8 van Velze (Williams 52). Subs not used: Fa’osiliva.