DIRECTOR of rugby Alan Solomons praised the “exemplary” effort of his players as Worcester Warriors claimed two “absolutely critical” points from a 33-30 defeat to Exeter Chiefs at Sixways.

Warriors were trailing 19-6 at half-time but came back firing with four second-half tries against the Gallagher Premiership leaders.

Bryce Heem, Ted Hill and Tom Howe went over before Chris Pennell capped off his testimonial day by scoring the bonus-point try late on.

“We certainly deserved the two points,” Solomons said.

“I thought we did really well to come back. Unfortunately we slipped off two first-up tackles in that second half and that cost us dearly.

“But I thought the attitude from the guys was exemplary and so was the effort.

“We certainly showed that we can compete against the best.”

On what was said at half-time Solomons said: “I felt that we needn’t get into a panic.

“I told them to forget about the first half and really focus on having a big 10 minutes to kick off the second half.

“We needed to stick to our guns as far as our attitude and effort were concern and we would reap the rewards which we did.”

However Warriors slipped closer to the drop as bottom club Newcastle Falcons beat Wasps 20-19 at The Ricoh Arena to reduce the gap to three points.

“Every single point counts – they are vital for us,” Solomons said.

“Yes, we are disappointed not to get a win but those two points will be absolutely critical going forward.”

Solomons was particularly pleased to see a response from last week’s 17-6 loss at Newcastle and for Pennell who made his 150th Premiership appearance, breaking Craig Gillies’ club record and surpassed the 400-point mark for Warriors.

“I was delighted for Chris,” Solomons said.

“He is a fantastic bloke and a fantastic clubman.

“For him to get the try and put the kick over which gave us the two points was well deserved.

“But I would like to say as well that the defensive effort from all the team was massive.

“The physical effort from every player was massive and they all deserve credit.

“All the players have got the utmost respect for Chris and want to give the best for him.

“Chris would have wanted nothing more than for them to play well for the sake of the team and for the club.

“We were disappointed with the game against Newcastle and we needed to set that right so that was our big focus.

“Obviously Chris having his 150th game was a big thing for the players and that dovetailed together quite nicely.”

Santiago Cordero bagged a brace before Olly Woodburn, Tom O’Flaherty and Harry Williams went over to secure a maximum-point win that takes Exeter eight clear at the top of the table.

But head coach Ali Hepher was not overly happy with his side’s performance against Warriors.

“There was some very good stuff in there, scoring good tries and made some good breaks,” Hepher said.

“But equally frustrated with the last 20 minutes and how it got very close.

“We just took our eye off the ball fractionally and against a good side like Worcester they are well capable of scoring those tries.

“I am pleased to get the win in the end and to finish off a hard block for us.”