Worcester look Goode enough to avoid drop
Worcester Warriors 21 Gloucester 15: Former England fly-half adds footwork to boot work to beat Tindall's disappointing Gloucester
Andy Goode's name has not been tossed around in any recent debate over England players – even though with 64 to be named in the senior and Saxons squads next Wednesday, there may be props and hookers in pub teams crossing their fingers – but the requirements of a bottom-half-of-the-table Premiership match can be very different to those at Test level. When the experienced Worcester fly-half, who has been understudying Joe Carlisle since October, trotted on for the second half he had a clear vision of the business he needed to do – and he did it.
Goode, who jinked past an awful missed tackle by his opposite number, Freddie Burns, for the match-changing try and carried on making good decisions after that, played for England as recently as November 2009. But the attritional scene of the Premiership is Goode's furthest horizon these days, as it is for most of the Worcester squad, although the wings Miles Benjamin and Marcel Garvey have been attracting offers from Leicester and France respectively. Gloucester have a much bigger gang of international hopefuls – the 21-year-old Burns among them. Not that their supposedly greater class counted yesterday.
"I just ran and everyone was surprised is probably what happened," Goode, 31, said of his try, direct from a scrum in the 22.
He knew as well as anyone the big part Worcester's forwards played in the club's first back-to-back Premiership wins in 35 matches. Nick Wood at loosehead prop and Luke Narraway at No 8 were among several Gloucester men who slunk away from Sixways with reputations unenhanced. Poor Olly Morgan, the full-back, popped his right knee and was carried off on a stretcher. Henry Trinder at centre dropped a rickett with the ill-judged chip that set up Garvey's thrilling 75-metre try that put Worcester 21-10 up after 65 minutes.
And Mike Tindall? The centre was unable to escape the Worcester defence and engage the "movement" of the Gloucester game that has been mentioned by England's interim head coach, Stuart Lancaster. It is not known whether the half-time playing of Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping" – "He drinks a vodka drink, he drinks a lager drink" – was in Tindall's honour. He is thought to be aware there is no need to watch the letterbox for an England squad notice, and he gave up the chase of Garvey in the latter's try somewhere around halfway.
"We couldn't get any dominance around set piece," said Gloucester's coach, Bryan Redpath, "but apart from two mistakes, I don't think Worcester were ever in our 22."
Even if that were true, it left the visitors embarrassed that their only second-half score was Jonny May's 78th-minute try.
Lancaster admitted in midweek that it may take until the 2015 World Cup for England to develop three or more enforcer forwards. It was perturbing for Wood, a possible stand-in for the injured Andy Sheridan, to be bent almost double by Tevita Taumoepeau in a scrum at the end of the first half. Worcester's starting fly-half, Carlisle, kicked his second penalty as a result – the first after 13 minutes had equalised Burns's opener – but he had struggled to make headway.
Worcester's head coach, Richard Hill said: "Andy hasn't been happy being on the bench, but his attitude has been first class. The situation was made for him and we're grateful."
Perhaps the liveliest England candidate was Charlie Sharples and at least the Gloucester wing scored a try. With 24 minutes gone a 20-metre driving maul – from a position initiated by Carlisle's spill and enhanced by a grubber from Trinder in behind Garvey – enabled a flashing backs move with Morgan feeding Sharples by the right touchline. He somehow made it past the Worcester full-back, Chris Pennell, for a fine finish that Burns did well to convert.
Worcester look well set to avoid relegation. They had never finished out of the bottom four in six attempts before they went down in 2010, but few have found it as tricky at Sixways as Gloucester. This was their fourth defeat in seven league matches here. The kings of the M5, as it happens, are currently Exeter, according to this morning's league standings anyway.
Worcester Warriors C Pennell (capt); M Garvey, A Grove, D Rasmussen, M Benjamin; J Carlisle (A Goode, 40), J Arr (S Perry, 59); M Mullan, A Lutui, T Taumoepeau (O Tomaszczyk, 78), J Percival, C Jones, S Betty, M Kvesic, J Abbott.
Gloucester O Morgan (J May, 53); C Sharples, H Trinder, M Tindall, J Simpson-Daniel; F Burns, R Lawson (D Lewis, 66); N Wood (D Murphy, 72), S Lawson (M Cortese, 66), R Harden (D Chistolini, 66), J Hamilton, A Brown (P Buxton, 72), A Strokosch, L Narraway (capt), A Qera (M Cox, 60).
Referee M Fox (Leicestershire).
Tries: Goode, Garvey
Pens: Carlisle 2, Goode
Tries: Sharples, May
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