Worcester victory piles more pressure on Ryan

Gloucester 6 Worcester 13
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The Independent Online

Gloucester's Guinness Premiership title chances have almost certainly gone after they lost a tension-packed home match against Worcester.

The under-pressure Gloucester coach, Dean Ryan, had fresh legs to call on after his side's 50-12 EDF Energy Cup final hammering by Cardiff Blues on Saturday, but by half-time, the home side were struggling as captain Gareth Delve turned down three kickable penalties to go for touch and possible tries.

It was a high-risk strategy which backfired in the opening 40 minutes. Gloucester pounded Worcester in the first 10 minutes, dominating possession and preventing the visitors from exiting their own side of the pitch.

But the points would not come. Reluctantly, Delve allowed the former England centre Olly Barkley to boot a penalty from 20 metres that put Gloucester 3-0 ahead.

Worcester, against some tired bodies from that Twickenham disaster, held firm if not too spectacular and, when they had their chances to make inroads on Gloucester, they took them.

The full-back Willie Walker, on loan at Worcester from Gloucester, punished his own club with two penalties.

And just before the interval, Gloucester found themselves 10 points adrift at 13-3 when lock Greg Rawlinson secured possession, passed to No 8 Netani Talei and the big Fijian outsprinted wing Mark Foster down the touchline to score unopposed.

Gloucester looked rudderless and in need of a leader to settle them down but, despite squeezing the life out of the visiting pack in the scrums, all they had to show for their efforts was a second penalty by Barkley. Gloucester threw the kitchen sink at Worcester in the final quarter but the visitors held on to the bitter end and deserved the victory.

Scores: Gloucester: Penalties: Barkley 2; Worcester: Try Talei, Conversion Walker, Penalties: Walker 2.

Gloucester: Morgan, Watkins (Sharples, 58), Simpson-Daniel, Barkley, Foster, Spencer, Cooper (R Lawson, 46), Dickinson, S Lawson (Azam, 46), Nieto (Wood, 41), Eustace, Brown (Bortolami, 46), Narraway, Qera (Satala, 49), Delve.

Worcester: Walker, Garvey, Grove, Rasmussen, Gear (Benjamin, 58), Jones (Crichton, 17), R Powell (Arr, 57), Black, Lutui (Fortey, 57), Morris (Ruwers, 79), Rawlinson, Kitchener, T Wood, Sanderson, Talei (Collins, 76).

Referee: R Debney (Leicestershire).