Gloucester 24-19 Warriors
WARRIORS were denied their first Premiership win of the season in an entertaining derby clash against Gloucester under the Kingsholm floodlights on Friday night.
Gloucester opened the scoring with an early Billy Burns penalty following Donncha O’Callaghan’s sin-bin for holding on.
The hosts made their extra man count and scored the game’s opening try when Jason Woodward teed up Ollie Thorley in the corner, with Burns slotting the conversion.
Thorley then grounded for his second of the evening in similar fashion just three minutes later, when Jacob Rowan broke through the visitors’ defence and fizzed the ball out wide to the winger.
But fly-half Ryan Mills reduced the deficit to 11 points with two penalties as the sides entered the break at 17-6.
The second half had barely got under way when Gloucester made a quick-fire break, which saw Billy Twelvetrees burst under the posts to open up a 24-6 advantage following Burns’ conversion.
Warriors hit back when Mills’ crossfield kick was collected high in the air by Perry Humphreys, who scrambled over in the corner to cut the score to 24-11.
The youngster then scored his second when pressure from Ben Te’o, GJ van Velze and Josh Adams saw the ball fizzed out wide to him to cross with ease, making it an eight-point game.
The deficit was reduced further when Mills made no mistake with a penalty kick in front of the posts late on, but despite a spell of pressure at the death, Warriors’ ongoing search for their first Premiership win of the campaign continues.
Director of rugby Gary Gold made three changes to the starting 15 that lost to Exeter Chiefs in the previous week, with Mills returning to take on his former club, whilst Peter Stringer and Alafoti Faosiliva were handed their first starts of the season.
Warriors were on the back foot from the offset after a Gloucester kick in behind was chased down and led to O’Callaghan being yellow carded from the resulting bombardment.
Burns then opened the scoring with a long-range kick after the hosts were awarded a penalty after winning the ball off the back of a lineout.
Moments later, Woodward showed skill down the right wing before teeing up Thorley to cross out wide for the first try of the night.
Thorley then grabbed his second when Rowan’s break found him out wide again, with Burns’ resulting conversion opening up a 17-point lead.
The visitors finally managed to get their hands on the ball and after several spells of pressure in Gloucester’s half, they were awarded a penalty which Mills successfully slotted.
Mills then knocked over another kick to make it 17-6 at the break.
But immediately after the interval, Gloucester managed to find space in midfield and some good handling saw Twelvetrees finish off under the sticks for Burns to add an easy two points.
Warriors fought back when Mills’ crossfield kick was claimed by Humphreys, who managed to wriggle his way over the line.
The visitors found some rhythm and when the impressive Te’o broke through and offloaded to GJ, it looked as if Warriors were going to score, before Adams was pulled down agonisingly short of the whitewash.
But the spirited visitors switched the ball back to the right and Humphreys was on hand to deliver a second try out wide.
Mills’ resulting conversion slipped wide as time was running out, but the fly-half managed to land a penalty from in front of the posts moments later to bring Warriors within five, setting up a tense finale.
With Gloucester down to 14 men due to an injury, Warriors pushed forward one last time.
But despite a valiant effort, they spilled the ball just short of the tryline and had to settle for a losing bonus point.
Warriors host European champions Saracens at Sixways on Friday (kick-off 7.45pm).