Planet Rugby

Worcester look dead and buried

24th February 2007 16:51

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Gloucester came through a gritty encounter to win 33-19 at a sell-out Kingsholm to maintain their push for Guinness Premiership honours and leave Worcester further in the mire.

Worcester came to within a point of their west country rivals before Gloucester ended the game with thirteen points in the final ten minutes. With Northampton winning earlier in the day this could well be the result that relegates Worcester.

The rock-bottom visitors dictated the early phases, keeping the ball in their mighty pack and denying their opponents' talented backline a chance of cutting loose.

Former Gloucester hooker Chris Fortey got stuck into his successor at Kingsholm, Olivier Azam, straight away.

And when the Cherry and Whites failed to adhere to referee Ashley Rowden's commands at the scrum, the Warriors forwards nudged James Brown to within range for a drop-goal to put the visitors in front in the third minute.

As Gloucester, bereft of nine first-team men due to international call-ups and injuries, fumbled passes and were all too rash in their attempts to release their runners, Worcester capitalised.

Piling forward, they picked up a penalty in front of the posts 30 metres out, which Brown converted.

Gloucester scrum-half Peter Richards, chastened by his demotion from the England squad, went from villain to hero in 30 seconds.

After losing possession in a tackle after a sniping break into Worcester's 22, he got back to make a try-saving tackle on Brown five metres from the line and secure turnover ball for the Cherry and Whites.

That seemed to inspire Gloucester, who began to edge the set pieces and forced Worcester into errors.

Brown's clearance was charged down by home captain Peter Buxton, and the flanker pumped his legs to collect the ball behind the befuddled Worcester backline and stumble to the posts.

Ryan Lamb, returning from injury after a month out, added the conversion and then two penalties as indiscipline crept into the Warriors forwards.

Brown added another penalty before Lamb missed a 40-metre effort when Tim Collier tackled Luke Narraway as he jumped in a line-out.

Gloucester pinned Worcester inside their own half for much of the last 10 minutes of the first half but could not find a way through to the line again.

When the Warriors did escape, they did so with ferocious pace.

Punishing a dreadful miscommunication at a Gloucester line-out, Matt Powell released his midfield, with Dale Rasmussen covering good ground before releasing another former Kingsholm man, Thinus Delport.

The winger made it to the line but was tackled into touch by Jon Goodridge to end the visitors' hopes of cutting Gloucester's 13-9 lead at half-time.

The home side extended that two minutes after the interval when they sucked Worcester into the tight phases and made room for Mark Foster to dart to the line.

Lamb added the conversion, but Gloucester had far from wrapped up the game.

Worcester steadied their heads and ground their way upfield before Powell found a gap.

He popped the ball up for Lee Best to run in the final 20 metres, with Brown converting.

Brown skewed a drop-goal wide and Ludovic Mercier, who had replaced Lamb, pushed a penalty wide, before the Warriors fly-half made it a one-point game with his third penalty.

Again, Worcester's discipline crumbled and they conceded two more penalties for Mercier to put the game out of reach.

James Bailey's converted try in the seventh minute of injury-time rubbed salt into Worcester's wounds.

The Scorers:

For Gloucester:

Tries: Buxton, Foster, Bailey

Cons: Lamb 2, Mercier

Pens: Lamb 2, Mercier 2

For Worcester:

Try: Best

Con: Brown

Pens: Brown 3

Drop Goal: Brown

Gloucester: 15 Jon Goodridge, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Rudi Keil, 12 Jack Adams, 11 Mark Foster, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Peter Richards, 8 Adam Eustace, 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Peter Buxton (c), 5 Alex Brown, 4 Will James, 3 Christian Califano, 2 Olivier Azam, 1 Nick Wood.

Replacements: 16 Jack Forster, 17 Mefin Davies, 18 Jonathan Pendlebury, 19 James Merriman, 20 Ludovic Mercier, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 James Bailey.

Worcester: 15 Lee Best 14 Aisea Havili, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 12 Gary Trueman, 11 Thinus Delport, 10 James Brown, 9 Matt Powell, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Tom Harding, 6 Pat Sanderson (c), 5 Tim Collier, 4 Craig Gillies, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Chris Fortey, 1 Tony Windo,

Replacements: 16 Darren Morris, 17 Aleki Lutui, 18 Phil Murphy, 19 Gavin Quinnell, 20 Nick Runciman, 21 Simon Whatling, 22 Mark Tucker

Referee: Ashley Rowden

Touch judges: Robin Goodliffe, Ashley Reay

Assessor: Gary Welsh

Television match official: Andrew Turner

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