WORCESTER Warriors boss Alan Solomons explained why he had been reluctant to play “versatile” back Jono Lance in recent weeks.

The Australian playmaker replaced the injured centre Francois Venter on 21 minutes before providing an assist in Warriors’ 38-10 defeat at Northampton Saints on Saturday.

Lance produced a fine low catch and offload to tee up Ben Te’o who smashed over from close range for Warriors’ only try of the Gallagher Premiership match.

It was Lance’s first outing in more than one month and only his ninth appearance in an injury-hit 2018-19 campaign.

Solomons was delighted to see Lance back on the pitch and defended his decision not to bring the 28-year-old on in Warriors’ wins over Sale Sharks and Gloucester.

“Jono had a stress fracture to his back so we had to get that right,” Solomons said.

“We had to be careful with him and then he hurt his oblique muscles on the side so that was also a problem.

“But he did well on Saturday and it was fantastic to see him back.”

Lance and scrum-half Michael Heaney were the only backs on the bench which featured six forwards.

Although this tactic paid off in the victory over Gloucester, injuries to backs Perry Humphreys and Venter left Solomons light on options at Franklin’s Gardens.

When Heaney came on for Humphreys Francois Hougaard switched to the wing where he has previously starred for South Africa.

“The 6-2 split on the bench helped us in the sense that we were able to put forwards on in the second half which made a huge difference,” Solomons said.

“I thought everyone who came on did well.

“Jack (Singleton’s) back was worrying him a little bit. We only gave him 20 minutes and we had to hold off putting Callum (Black) on until the last 15-20 minutes.

“Gareth came on for Sharkey (Nick Schonert) and played a length of time.

“The difficultly you have is when you lose backs.

“But once Francois Hougaard went back onto the field (after his yellow card) we were covered in the backs for the game.

“He has played international rugby on the wing.

“Jono has played 10, 12 and 15 and that’s one of the reasons why we decided to do the 6-2 split.

“We felt that we could cover all of the positions with Francois’ and Jono’s versatility.”

Solomons also said the reason behind taking Sam Lewis off at half-time was tactical as he looked to bring free legs on in the shape of Ted Hill. Locks Anton Bresler and Darren Barry also made way for Michael Fatialofa and Andrew Kitchener early in the second period.

“I thought Kitch was terrific and Michael did well as well along with Ted,” Solomons said.

“In the second half I thought our defence was good as we shored it up.

“I thought all the lads that came off the bench did really well.

“They all added a lot of energy.

“I thought Jono did really well and he had hardly played this season.”

Solomons had hinted of rotating his side after the Gloucester game but made just one change with fit-again number eight Gerrit-Jan van Velze coming in for the injured Marco Mama.

“We felt there was a bit of momentum there and the players were dead keen to play,” Solomons said.

“We wanted to keep that momentum going. We had a 6-2 bench so there was an opportunity to bring guys on which we did do.

“I understand that the result was disappointing but there were mitigating circumstances.

“That first half was extremely difficult for us.

“To lose three players to a HIA, then Francois Hougaard and having a 6-2 bench we were struggling in the back-line.

“It wasn’t easy.”