Warriors 23-23 Gloucester
HEAD coach Carl Hogg’s first taste of a top flight M5 derby against Gloucester ended in an enthralling stalemate under the floodlights at Sixways on Friday night.
In a game which was not short of action, Warriors found themselves leading by 11 points after the hour mark through tries from Ben Te’o, Cooper Vuna and Perry Humphreys, despite going down to 14 men following Alafoti Faosiliva’s dismissal.
But Gloucester fought back as Matt Scott and Henry Purdy crossed the whitewash to level the game and set-up a nervous finale, which ultimately ended in a share of the spoils.
Hogg made three changes to the side that travelled to Twickenham for the London Double-header, as Faosiliva made his first start for the club, while James Johnston and Donncha O’Callaghan were both recalled to the starting line-up.
The visitors started in the ascendancy and took the lead in the second minute courtesy of a Greig Laidlaw penalty.
Warriors, on their on new artificial pitch, then survived a scare as referee Luke Pearce went to the TMO after Charlie Sharples had appeared to ground the ball for the visitors ‘first try.
Wynand Olivier had put in a huge tackle to halt the winger in his tracks and the referee eventually deemed Sharples had made a double movement.
The game became an entertaining end-to-end affair as both sides created opportunities and it was Warriors who scored the first try of the match, when Te’o received the ball ten metres out and smashed his way to the tryline.
Laidlaw then added his second penalty of the evening to edge the visitors into the lead, but shortly afterwards Vuna put the 8,905 home fans on their feet once again as he raced down the right before diving over the tryline.
Lamb’s conversion gave Warriors a six-point advantage, before the fly-half scored his first penalty to give the hosts a 15-6 lead at the interval.
The second half began in the same fashion as the first as Laidlaw notched his third penalty of the night.
Lamb then saw a kick bounce back off the post as Warriors looked to rebuild their lead.
The hosts looked comfortable and were enjoying a lot of possession as the game wore on, but they were dealt a huge blow when Faosiliva was sent off after he was adjudged to have caught Mariano Galarza with an elbow as he bundled his way forward.
The players regrouped and appeared galvanised by the man disadvantage, as they went over for a third try when Humphreys showed a burst of pace to see off a number of Gloucester defenders to dive over in the far left corner.
But Gloucester hit back when Scott found a gap in the home defence and darted his way to the tryline, which Laidlaw converted to reduce Warriors’ lead to four points.
Tom Heathcote struck a penalty to open a 23-16 lead, but Gloucester again fought back when Purdy dotted down in the corner, which Laidlaw converted to level the scores with less than ten minutes remaining.
Both sides pressed for a winner and Gloucester almost had it when they were just metres away from the hosts’ tryline, but Warriors cleared the danger as they kicked the ball into touch.
Warriors are back on the road this Saturday when they travel to the Recreation Ground to take on Bath at 3pm.