Aviva PremiershipGloucester (17) 24Tries: Thorley 2, Twelvetrees Cons: Burns 3 Pen: BurnsWorcester (6) 19Tries: Humphreys 2 Pens: Mills 3
Gloucester were given a scare by local rivals Worcester before emerging narrow winners in the M5 derby at Kingsholm.
Stung by skipper Donncha O’Callaghan’s early yellow card, Worcester trailed 17-3 after shipping two converted Ollie Thorley tries while down to 14 men.
Two Ryan Mills penalties pegged it back to 17-6 at the break before Billy Twelvetrees’ superb converted try.
But, after two unconverted Perry Humphreys tries, Mills’ third penalty late on earned Warriors a bonus point.
Warriors’ fourth straight defeat took their tally of points conceded this season to 124, but they argued that the most crucial moment of the night was the yellow card against O’Callaghan for not retreating 10 metres after Gloucester had run a close-range penalty.
With Billy Burns supplying nine points from three conversions and an early penalty, Gloucester, who beat champions Wasps in their season opener, made it two wins out of two at home.
Warriors are still bottom of the table, having lost six Premiership games in a row going back to last season and have only one Premiership win to their name at Kingsholm.
But, after such a horrid start, this was a huge improvement on last season’s 55-19 defeat on this ground, their heaviest of the season, just a fortnight before Gary Gold was appointed.
Gloucester had to play out the final eight minutes a player short themselves when referee Wayne Barnes ruled that they could not put on a replacement as lock Tom Savage’s exit was not a head injury assessment, by which time they had used their eight substitutes.
By then, Warriors had been revived by Humphrey’s two tries, first when he evaded opposing winger Charlie Sharples to gather Gloucester old boy Mills’ superb crossfield kick and stumble over.
Then, having claimed only his side’s fourth Premiership try of the season, he got another when he finishing off a slick move involving England and Lions centre Ben Te’o.
Gloucester defence coach Jonny Bell:
“It is pretty mixed emotions. We showed a great deal of determination to shut them out at the end, but we know we have got work to do.
“We played some sublime stuff, but we have just got to make sure we look after the ball better. We are growing as a team – there are a lot of new faces here, and it is not going to happen overnight.
“We need to make the most of the opportunities we get. After Billy Twelvetrees scores a try two minutes into the second half you are disappointed not to get the bonus point.
“But, if you look at it, with 30 seconds to go and Worcester camped on our line, you are going ‘thank you for the four points’. Worcester were not going to make life easy for us, and it took some real mettle for us to stick it out.”
Warriors head coach Carl Hogg told BBC Hereford & Worcester:
“We shipped points after the yellow card. We slipped off one or two tackles during that 10-minute period, and it cost us dear.
“Wayne Barnes has ruled that Donncha wasn’t back 10 metres when they took the quick tap and go.
“By the letter of the law, he’s probably right. But it’s a tough call in the first five minutes of the game.”
“We got off to a very slow start, but we showed a huge amount of character and endeavour to try and get a foothold in the game and change momentum.”
Gloucester: Woodward; Sharples, Twelvetrees, Atkinson, Thorley; B Burns, Heinz (capt); Rapava Ruskin, Matu’u, Afoa, Slater, Thrush, Clarke, Rowan, Ackermann.
Replacements: Hibbard, Hohneck, Denman, Savage, Ludlow, Vellacott, Trinder, Halaifonua.
Worcester Warriors: Adams; Humphreys, Willison, Te’o, Heem; Mills, Stringer; Bower, Singleton, Alo, O’Callaghan (capt), Phillips, Faosiliva, Lewis, Van Velze.
Replacements: Taufete’e, Waller, Milasinovich, Scotland-Williamson, Denton, Kitto, Hammond, Shillcock.
Sin bin: O’Callaghan (5).