Gloucester were made to work very hard to overcome Worctester 24-22 in their Premiership clash at Kingsholm on Saturday.
Gloucester emerge with a hard fought victory thanks to tries from Tevina Halaifonua, Sione Kalamafoni and Richard Hibbard. And despite two tries from Cooper Vuna and one from Ryan Mills, it was the hosts who emerged with the 24-22 win.
A blazing start from both sides hinted at the madness that was to follow, with two tries inside the first six minutes.
The hosts broke the deadlock as a drive from the Gloucester forwards saw Hibbard touch over the line as the Worcester back line was breached at the first attempt.
Billy Twelvetrees missed a straight forward conversion attempt, and a couple of minutes later that allowed Worcester to nip into the lead. Vuna found himself in the right position to intercept a Stuart Meakes pass, and roamed forward before crashing down and eradicating the first try of the game. The follow up conversion from Tom Heathcote put the visitors two points ahead.
It was the turn of Gloucester again to pressure the try line, and as they bore down on it, the referee awarded a penalty which was sent through by Twelvetrees.
Soon after, the scoring continued when the third try of the first 15 minutes came, Gloucester extending their lead. Kalamafoni was on the end of some superb handling from Meakes, and after the TMO had a second look, was awarded with the try which Twelvetrees again failed to find the target from with the kick.
The Kingsholm crowd were on their feet again on 20 minutes as this time Twelvetrees' kick sailed through the posts to extend the advantage to nine points, though Ryan Mills kick reduced that back down to six.
A rare 10 minute spell of no points was soon broken by Warriors, who equalled the try scoring via Annett. Following a line-out, a huge maul from Worcester saw Annett break through the defence and crash over the line, allowing Heathcote to convert and put Warriors into a single point lead.
Three minutes before the break, Gloucester nicked it back again through Twelvetrees' accurate penalty. And from the halfway line he almost increased the advantage on the brink of half-time, only to see the ball cannon back off the post.
The ferocious derby continued from the off in the second 40, with the ever changing scoreline seeing Vuna go over for his second. A wonderful carry from Chris Pennell fed Vuna who went over on the end of a frantic break forward, putting Warriors back in front. Ryan Lamb, introduced as a substitute, missed the conversion attempt.
The hosts continued the attacking threat they had shown all afternoon, but were being well held up by a superbly resolute Worcester defence, who were holding a slender lead midway through the second half.
But eventually, Gloucester found a way through. With 20 left to play, Halaifonua barged his way over after the hosts finally got their handling right, James Hook missing the conversion to keep just a two point deficit between the sides.
They thought they had extended that lead to seven with just over 10 minutes remaining, Jonny May collecting and going over after a kick into the corner, only for it to be ruled out for a forward pass and a scrum awarded instead.
Gloucester kept the pressure on and spent a considerable amount of time just a few metres from the Worcester line, but ultimately emerged with the two point victory.
Tries: Hibbard, Kalamafoni, Halaifonua
Pens: Twelvetrees 3
Tries: Annett, Vuna 2
Cons: Heathcote 2
Yellow card: Schonert
Gloucester: 15 Charlie Sharples, 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Billy Twelvetrees (capt), 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Jonny May, 10 James Hook, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Sione Kalamafoni, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Henry Purdy.
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Tom Biggs, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Marco Mama, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Na'ama Leleimalefaga.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Joe Rees, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Ben Howard.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Tom Foley, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Keith Lewis