Worcester and Gloucester couldn’t be separated after 80 minutes at Sixways on Friday, with both sides forced to settle for a 23-23 draw.
The M5 derby saw both sides look likely to win at various stages, but in the end both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils on the new organic artificial pitch, being played on for the first time competitively.
Former Gloucester fly-half Ryan Lamb put in a man-of-the-match performance with two assists and a penalty of his own, but it was perhaps Worcester’s Alafoti Faosiliva who had the biggest say on the result, his red card affording Gloucester a way back into the match.
On the new surface, it was the visitors who adjusted best in the early stages with Worcester giving away two penalties, the second of which was kicked through the posts by Greig Leidlaw for an early lead.
Gloucester looked to have extended their lead as Charlie Sharples went over in the corner, but the TMO ruled a completed tackle had been made and the home side had a chance to get themselves into the contest.
And they did just that, with ex-Gloucester man Lamb cutting open his former side with a wonderful pass to Ben Te’o, who escaped the attention of Leidlaw to go over.
The strong wind saw Lamb unable to convert. Leidlaw briefly restores the away team’s lead, but it was Worcester who finished the half on top. A converted Cooper Vuna try courtesy of a second Lamb assist was given the thumbs up from the TMO following suspicions of a forward pass. Lamb’s night got even better as his long range penalty went through the posts without problem to give Worcester a nine point lead at the break.
Gloucester made a similarly good start to the second half as they did the first, winning a penalty within 90 seconds of the restart. Leidlaw, now kicking with the wind, added the three points. They struggled to push on from there, but were handed a lifeline when the home side’s Faosiliva led with his forearm against Mariano Galarza, hitting him square in the chin.
It looked without intention, but referee Luke Pearce had no choice but to reduce the hosts to 14 men. It was Worcester who responded best, with half time replacement Perry Humphreys going over. The 20-year-old fended off the best advances of Matt Ksevic to score the Warriors’ third try of the match but Lamb sent his conversion wide.
Just as the game looked over, Gloucester hit back through Matt Scott’s third try of the season. The summer signing dotted down having been fed through by Mark Atkinson following a well won scrum, and Leidlaw’s conversion closed the gap to just four points with a quarter of the contest remaining.
With less than 10 minutes to go, it was a case of déjà vu as the hosts edged clear with a Tom Heathcote penalty before Henry Purdy took advantage of slack marking and the extra man to touch down, with Leidlaw kicking the teams level.
Both sides searched for a winner in the dying embers, but had to settle for two points each.
For Worcester Warriors:
Tries: Te’o, Vuna, Humphreys
Pens: Lamb, Heatchcote
Red Card: Faosiliva
Tries: Scott, Purdy
Cons: Laidlaw 2,
Pens: Laidlaw 3
Worcester Warriors: 15 Jackson Willison, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Marco Mama, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 James Johnston, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 Mike Daniels, 19 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 20 Carl Kirwan, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Perry Humphreys
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 James Hook, 23 Mark Atkinson
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Roy Maybank
TMO: Stuart Terheege