Hazell adds to England's fears

Gloucester 28 - Worcester 16
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The Independent Online

Andy Robinson must feel cursed. The England coach had lost Jonny Wilkinson, Mike Tindall, Will Greenwood, Stuart Abbott, Richard Hill and Martin Corry for next Saturday's opening Six Nations game against Wales in Cardiff before yesterday's round of matches kicked off. A mere 46 minutes later Andy Hazell, a rumoured starter at open-side, limped out of the action here.

Andy Robinson must feel cursed. The England coach had lost Jonny Wilkinson, Mike Tindall, Will Greenwood, Stuart Abbott, Richard Hill and Martin Corry for next Saturday's opening Six Nations game against Wales in Cardiff before yesterday's round of matches kicked off. A mere 46 minutes later Andy Hazell, a rumoured starter at open-side, limped out of the action here.

It is of course the job of a flanker to receive some punishment - Robinson knows that from his own days prowling the gain-line, and Hazell certainly got some as early as the seventh minute when he slowed down the Worcester ball. The tap-dancing was insistent but fair, and although Hazell remained prone for some seconds, he recovered well enough to make some excellent breaks and offer on-the-shoulder support to the backs.

In short, he was doing exactly what a good open-side should do, but he could not last the pace and eventually hobbled off. Much will depend on the exact extent of his suffering and the work administered by the medical staff. If he does not make the Wales match it will be harsh luck because he impressed in the autumn internationals and has been a consistent performer for Gloucester for the past couple of seasons.

If he does recover, then maybe it was just as well he went off because five minutes after he did the aggression that had been simmering throughout exploded. Phil Vickery and Andre van Niekerk were sent to the sin bin, but plenty of others were involved.

It was one of those matches never lacking passion or interest, despite Gloucester looking comfortable winners from midway through the first half. Seti Kiole impressed on the left wing, scoring in the 27th minute and benefiting from Duncan McRae's desire to attack, and Andy Gomarsall produced another mixed performance, sharp one moment, as when he charged down Matt Powell's clearance kick and scored, and slack the next, kicking straight to touch.

It was, however, the kind of easy win that Gloucester needed. Still smarting from their thumping by Stade Français, they need to win a series of league matches and defeat Bath in the semi-final of the Powergen Cup to resurrect their season. Worcester just need a win. But their spirit is strong, Powell scoring a deserved try in the final minute - which is what their season may go down to.

Gloucester: J Goodridge; J Bailey, T Fanolua, H Paul, S Kiole; D McRae (N Mauger, 79), A Gomarsall; T Sigley, M Davies, P Vickery, P Buxton (J Forrester, 68), A Brown, J Boer (capt, T Bezuidenhout, 55), A Balding, A Hazell (M Cornwell 45).

Worcester: T Delport; G Pieters, D Rasmussen, T Lombard, B Hinshelwood; J Brown, M Powell; T Window, A van Niekerk, C Horsman, T Collier (P Murphy, 43), C Gillies, D Hickey, B MacLeod-Henderson (M Hall, 55), P Sanderson (capt).

Referee: T Spreadbury (Gloucestershire).

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