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Gloucester edge Warriors

08th May 2010 16:53

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Akapusi Qera gloucester worcester

Gloucester's first: Akapusi Qera

Gloucester finished their Guinness Premiership season with a one-point victory over Worcester on Saturday, winning 23-22 at Sixways Stadium.

The result ended the Warriors' six-year stay in the top flight but they nearly snatched a win with the last kick of the game when replacement Willie Walker hit a 22-metre drop-goal against a post.

Worcester rang the changes to the starting line-up for the game from the team which lost at Leeds Carnegie in their do-or-die Premiership relegation clash a fortnight ago.

Gloucester, meanwhile, made one switch from the team which beat London Irish in their last league clash as England number eight Luke Narraway came in for Adam Eustace.

There was another absentee from that Leeds game for Worcester with caretaker coach Andrew Stanley picking the team after the departure of rugby director Mike Ruddock.

And the home side started well as fly-half Joe Carlisle began a good move that led to wing Chris Pennell going over for the first try of the match.

There could have been another when Australian full-back star Chris Latham, playing his final game after a two-year stay, went over only for the try to be ruled out for offside.

But Gloucester took their first chance to get points on the board when Welsh fly-half Nicky Robinson launched over a 35 metre penalty.

And soon the Cherry and Whites took the lead when pressure inside the home 22 saw the ball run loose on the right wing and give flanker Akapusi Qera a run-in down the touchline from 20 metres.

Worcester were unlucky not to get an attacking scrum when Gloucester full-back Olly Morgan fumbled a kick into his 22 over the line and appeared to accidentally touch it down before clearing. But it was not spotted by any of the officials.

Gloucester went further ahead when a clever kick to the corner saw former England wing Lesley Vainikolo just beat the cover for the try.

The Cherry and Whites had the run of possession in the half but Worcester went into the break in front after Robinson threw a pass on halfway only to see centre Alex Grove neatly intercept and race unopposed to the posts, giving Carlisle a simple conversion for a 15-13 scoreline.

But, as both teams rang the changes in the third quarter, the match's intensity waned as Gloucester's handling became haphazard, while Worcester struggled to mount any meaningful attacks.

Carlisle had a penalty chance just after the break but missed, while Robinson's second penalty of the afternoon on the hour put Gloucester into a one-point advantage.

Worcester's one meaningful attack at that stage saw them gain significant possession inside the Gloucester 22 but a strong defence refused to buckle as the move fizzled out.

But the game sparked into life again in the last 10 minutes. Gloucester hooker Scott Lawson looked to have wrapped up the victory as he emerged from a pile of bodies after an attacking line-out win by Narraway for Robinson to convert and produce an eight-point gap.

However, Worcester would not give in and had the visitors struggling in their own 22. Then, after a ruck was turned over on the line, Robinson was caught unable to clear on the dead-ball line. He ran left but was tap-tackled for the ball to run loose and Latham to pounce for the try.

Carlisle's conversion set up a furious finish as Worcester went for only their fifth league win of the season and they nearly snatched it with a drop-goal from Walker only for it to agonisingly hit the post and Gloucester cleared to touch to secure a narrow victory.

The scorers:

For Worcester:
Tries: Pennell, Grove, Latham
Con: Carlisle 2
Pen: Carlisle

For Gloucester:
Tries: Qera, Vainikolo, Lawson
Con: Robinson
Pen: Robinson 2

Worcester: 15 Chris Latham (capt), 14 Chris Pennell, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Dale Rasmussen, 11 Marcel Garvey, 10 Joe Carlisle, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 James Collins, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Graham Kitchener, 3 Olivier Sourgens, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Adam Black.
Replacements: 16 Callum Black, 17 Chris Fortey, 18 Jack Gilding, 19 Will Bowley, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Louis Silver, 22 Willie Walker, 23 Calum MacRae.

Gloucester: 15 Olly Morgan, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Mike Tindall (capt), 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Lesley Vainikolo, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Peter Buxton, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Olivier Azam, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Greg Somerville, 19 Will James, 20 Alasdair Strokosch, 21 Jordi Pasqualin, 22 Tim Taylor, 23 Charlie Sharples.

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