Paul's try saves Gloucester

Worcester 13 - Gloucester 18
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The Independent Online

The Worcester ground is called Sixways, but for much of yesterday "one-way" was a more accurate description as the home side dictated events and had their neighbours reeling in stunned surprise.

The Cherry and Whites had their pips well and truly squeezed. The climax to the match was a thrilling mess of mauls and mistakes, mad rushes and desperate lunges. Worcester were right on the Gloucester line, winning penalties, opposition line-outs and the respect of the visiting fans, but they could not find a way through a Gloucester defence that was worthy of that city's walls.

There was no doubt that Gloucester were shaken and their director of rugby, Nigel Melville, had words of warning for other teams: "If you come here, do not take Worcester lightly. They have a big, physical presence. This is a much better side than Rotherham last year. They are going to take points; they got one today."

Gloucester is famous for its Old Spots - a breed of dom-estic pig - and Worcester could become famous for its Gloucester old boys - there were four on the pitch and two more on the bench. One of them, Tony Windo, rattled his former colleagues inside a quarter of an hour.

Two Gloucester backs had been buried under a swarm of blue shirts. Suddenly the ball squirted out to the lurking Windo. With the aplomb of a half-back the burly prop palmed the ball, pinched himself and then covered the 20 metres or so to the line like a charging boar. He was even able to canter around nearer the posts to give James Brown a simple conversion.

Brown, under the watchful gaze of England's new head coach, Andy Robinson, and defence specialist, Phil Larder, went on to land two penalties and put in a cluster of big tackles as he and his partner Matt Powell controlled affairs.

Gloucester were guilty of silly errors and it took them until after the interval to get their act together. That happened when Olivier Azam and Peter Buxton headed upfield. From the ruck Henry Paul, who had missed two earlier penalties, was put over for a well-worked try.

Five minutes later a clever grubber kick by Duncan McRae saw the full-back Jon Goodridge beat Darren O'Leary to the touchdown. But there was plenty more fire in the home side's bellies and they fought their way back into contention with Brown's second penalty.

In fact it got quite feisty. The Worcester lock Tim Collier had already received a yellow card for tipping up a Gloucester catcher at an early line-out and the replacement prop Steve Sparks had been on almost a minute when he tangled with the England prop Phil Vickery. The pair were dismissed to the sin-bin, from where they were able to watch the pulsating, nail-biting climax.

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), 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 (Powell, 79).

Referee: R Maybank (Kent).