17th Sep, 2019

Warriors settle for point in Gloucester thriller

Worcester Editorial 2nd Nov, 2015 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

FROM Championship-title contenders to Premiership ‘danger men’, Worcester Warriors have come a long way since their days in English rugby’s second tier.

However, director of rugby Dean Ryan and his players are still left wanting more as they fell just short of securing a memorable win at Kingsholm.

It is fair to say this was a match Gloucester should have comfortably won having dominated the scrum and had the lion’s share of possession.

But as well as being resolute in defence, Warriors showed their skills in attack as Cooper Vuna crossed twice in between Niall Annett’s push-over try.

And having almost stunned the power-packed hosts with a breakaway try at the death, Ryan said his side was disappointed not to have snatched victory.

“We hung in again and got a bonus point, but the way this team is they think they could have won,” Ryan said.

“We are not hiding from the fact we withstood a huge amount of pressure, but if you are in it at the end you deserve a shot at it.

“We came into the Premiership looking to close the gap of the Championship and the irony is it is not the game that is killing us it is field position and some of the basics of the game.

“So we need to be focus on that because we look a dangerous side.”

Warriors looked set for a tough afternoon when Richard Hibbard got on the end of a driving maul to score inside the opening second minute.

But moments later the visitors were gifted a try when Billy Meakes’ loose pass was snapped up by Vuna who eased over the line.

Tom Heathcote then landed the conversion to put Warriors 7-5 in front after just five minutes. And the match continued at apace as Meakes made a scything run before Gloucester secured a penalty which Billy Twelvetrees dispatched.

Despite the early error, the Cherry and Whites were the better side in the opening stages and they extended their lead when Sione Kalamafoni went over in the corner.

Twelvetrees once again failed to add the extras, but made amends with a penalty to make it 16-7.

However, Warriors battled back and closed the gap with a long range kick from Ryan Mills before scoring their second try. After gathering a line-out, Worcester powered over, with Annett grounding the ball. Heathcote converted to edge 17-16 ahead.

The lead was short-lived, though, as Twelvetrees fired home from the tree and Gloucester had the chance to increase their advantage, but the fly half’s effort before the break cannoned off the upright.

Warriors remained on the back foot at the start of the second period before the introduction of Ryan Lamb sparked them into action.

The former Gloucester man made an instant off the bench as he burst through and passed inside to Chris Pennell who found Vuna to score.

The unconverted try put Warriors 22-19 in front, but the hosts soon cancelled this out as David Halaifonua went over on the hour mark.

Gloucester were cranking up the pressure and they appeared to add another when Jonny May dived over, but referee Craig Maxwell-Keys ruled it out for a forward pass.

Warriors were being pinned back and their opponents looked set to strike again when Nick Schonert was sin-binned following three scrum penalties.

However, Worcester survived as Darren Barry snatched a line-out and with a minute remaining his side almost struck themselves.

Wynand Olivier went charging up-field before the ball was switched to the right, but the final pass was forward and the chance was lost.

Player ratings:

Pennell 7, Biggs 5 (Howard 62), Olivier 8, Mills 7, Vuna 7, Heathcote 6 (Lamb 47 7), Arr 6, Leleimalefaga 5 (Rapava Ruskin 47, 5), Annett 6 (George 60, 5), Schonert 6 (Rees 60, 5), O’Callaghan 6, Cavubati 6, Dowson 7 (Barry 60, 7), Mama 6 (Cox 47, 6), Van Velze 7

Replacements not used: Mulchrone

Star man: Olivier – the Springbok was resolute in defence but also was an attacking and almost set up a match-winning try.

 

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