Gloucester hold nerve to head to Paris on a high

Worcester 13 - Gloucester 18
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The Independent Online

Having brought their first tranche of Premiership matches to a satisfactory, if slightly shaky, close with victory in the inaugural derby against Worcester, Gloucester's thoughts have turned to Europe.

Having brought their first tranche of Premiership matches to a satisfactory, if slightly shaky, close with victory in the inaugural derby against Worcester, Gloucester's thoughts have turned to Europe.

The Cherry and Whites open their Heineken Cup campaign away to Stade Français. In order to beat the best you need the best of preparations, and, thanks to Dave Ellis, their defence specialist who performs the same function with the Tricolores, Gloucester have managed that. For the build-up to Saturday's match they have secured use of the French national team's training centre just outside Paris.

In fact, the preparations began at Sixways, where Worcester threatened to roll over the pre-match favourites. "It's another away win," said Nigel Melville, Gloucester's director of rugby. "But if Worcester give as much as they gave today against other teams then they are going to win some games."

The Cherry and Whites had to weather a squally first half, during which Worcester gained the initiative through Tony Windo's 13th-minute try.

Worcester continued to hammer away at Gloucester but were unable to further exploit their domination. Gloucester withstood the pressure and waited for the storm to subside.

And it did, for the third quarter of the game, a period which saw Gloucester scatter the hopes of the home team like fallen leaves with two well worked tries. The first highlighted the importance of mobile forwards as they set up Henry Paul to score.

The second proved the value of homework. When Duncan McRae knocked a kick past Daren O'Leary towards the left-hand corner, the Worcester right wing turned with the speed of a battleship, which allowed Gloucester's pacey full-back Jon Goodridge bags of time to win the race for the touchdown.

"I couldn't understand why they put O'Leary on the wing," said Ellis later. "A few years ago he was sharp enough, but these days he can't turn."

That second try should have finished off the home team, but it merely engendered another Worcester whirlwind. There was barely a let-up, save for a bout of fisticuffs between Phil Vickery and Worcester's Steven Sparks which earned them yellow cards.

The England man then spent the next 10 minutes sitting in the sin-bin before the referee finally called time on a great contest from which Worcester emerged with the consolation of a bonus point for sticking a lot closer to Gloucester than the 30 miles which separate the pair.

Worcester: Try Windo; Conversion Brown; Penalties Brown 2. Gloucester: Tries Paul, Goodridge; Conversion Paul; Penalty Paul; Drop goal McRae.

Worcester: T Delport; D O'Leary (S Kepu, 61; B Gollings 78), D Rasmussen, T Lombard, B Hinshelwood; J Brown, M Powell; T Windo (S Sparks, 73), A van Niekirk (B Daly, 21), C Horsman (L Fortey, 80), T Collier (S Vaili, 68; T Windo, 77), C Gillies, M Gabey, D Hickey, P Sanderson (capt).

Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, T Fanolua, H Paul, J Simpson-Daniel; D McRae, A Gomarsall; C Bezuidenhout (T Sigley, 62), O Azam (C Fortey, 62), G Powell (P Vickery, 40), P Buxton (A Eustace, 67), A Brown, J Boer (capt), A Balding, A Hazell (G Powell, 77).

Referee: R Maybank (Kent).

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