Rugby Union: Sims makes a statement

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Gloucester 31 Worcester 17

IT NEEDED a spot of R and R - rucking and rolling - from Dave Sims to rejuvenate and rescue Gloucester's cause against the Second Division promotion contenders Worcester. The England lock, who has not been on the best of terms with his club recently, has been languishing on the sidelines, struggling to regain his form and fitness since early autumn.

Replacement has been the best he has managed since he last started a match in October. But the 29-year-old took the first important steps on the road to his rehabilitation, and reconciliation with the club's management, with a combative performance after being brought on to shake things up in the second half of an attractive Tetley's Bitter Cup tie played on a mudslide of a pitch.

Sims has been doing extra training, concentrating on endurance, and said: "I still think I am the fittest I have ever been. Experience also counts for a lot and I like to think that I inspire people and can galvanise a set of forwards."

Which is what happened on Saturday. The going had begun to get tough, Worcester were one point behind at the interval, so on came Sims and hooker Chris Fortey, two toughies. The Gloucester pack suddenly looked focused, driving all before them and recycling the ball far more quickly.

"I messed up a couple of moves," said Sims, "but I was just so anxious to get on and play well. I was apprehensive and nervous before I went on, worse than I have felt for a long time. I felt under a lot of pressure to perform well and not make any mistakes."

Richard Hill, the Gloucester director of rugby, was complimentary about Sims' performance. "I think Sims played well, he lifted the pack. On the evidence of that performance he is fighting to get back. He is going the right way."

But nothing is settled yet. There is still some doubt over Sims' future. "I will continue to fight for my place at least until the end of the season," promised Sims, the Gloucester club captain. "But there are bridges that have to be built and some that have to be crossed."Bristol and Cardiff already have shown interest in the lock known, while the man himself hinted that Worcester might not be a bad place to end up - "They are a very good side, I might have a look at them one day."

Gloucester: Tries Mapletoft, Saint-Andre, Ojomoh, Fortey; Conversion Mapletoft; Penalties Mapletoft 3. Worcester: Tries Richardson, Jenner; Conversions Liley 2; Penalty Liley.

Gloucester: C Catling; B Johnson, T Fanolua, R Greenslade-Jones, P Saint- Andre (A Lumsden, 74); M Mapletoft, N Cane; T Woodman, N McCarthy (C Fortey, 41), A Deacon (A Powles, 62), R Fidler (capt), M Cornwell (D Sims, 41), E Pearce, S Ojomoh, N Carter (A Hazell, 62).

Worcester: J Liley; S Morris, D Hughes (P Holford, 54), R Myler, N Baxter (N Malone, 59); R Le Bas, B Fenley (capt; S Powell, 77); M Linnett, D Ball (G Houston, 77), P Mitchell (J Broady 28-36; 62), R Denhardt, C Raymond, G Clark (M Gilbert, 74), J Jenner (E Orgee, 54), N Richardson.

Referee: R Goodliffe (Sheffield).