Gloucester were down 20-9 in the second half yet stormed back to draw
Alafoti Faosilva was dismissed for the Warriors in a game-changing moment after 50 minutes
Tries from Scotland centre Matt Scott and Henry Purdy rescued the draw for the Cherry and Whites
BY STEVE SMITH, RUCK.co.uk EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A packed out Sixways witnessed an intense M5 derby as Worcester and Gloucester couldn’t be separated after 80 minutes on Friday evening after the hosts played half an hour with 14 men.
The game-changing moment came when Worcester flanker Alafoti Faosilva was dismissed for leading with his forearm ten minutes after the restart. Tries from home debutant Ben Te’o and Cooper Vuna had given the hosts a 15-9 lead at the break before replacement Perry Humphrey briefly stretched their lead with Warriors third try of the night despite them being a man down.
But late tries from Matt Scott and Henry Purdy, converted by Greg Laidlaw, earned the visitors a share of the spoils.
Gloucester, despite not being good tonight by any means, managed to come back and earn a draw thanks to scores from Matt Scott and Henry Purdy combined with the reliable boot of Greig Laidlaw.
Gloucester captain Laidlaw, who scored 13 points with his boot tonight, speaking to BT Sport said:
“I think last year we would’ve lost this game – so that’s one positive we’ll take out of it.
“There was probably a lack of concentration, but I’m really deflighted that we came back tonight.
“We’d have liked to have won the game but we’ve clawed our way back into it and got a draw.”
After both sides suffered defeats on the opening weekend of the Aviva Premiership, Gloucester and Worcester were hoping to bounce back at the first time of asking on Friday night.
The Cherry and Whites took the lead after three minutes as Laidlaw took advantage of the Warriors poor discipline to slot a simple penalty. Charlie Sharples then went over in the corner for the visitors soon after, but the TMO decided that Wynand Olivier had made a completed tackle, meaning the score remained 3-0 to the visitors heading into the second quarter.
Worcester then finally got some possession, with powerhouse Ben Te’o proving his worth as he powered through to touch down the opening try of the contest. The Warriors were now in front by two but Ryan Lamb’s wind-affected conversion is missed.
Laidlaw recaptured the lead for Gloucester with his second three-pointer but a second try for the free-flowing Warriors, compliments of Cooper Vuna, once again edged the hosts in front. Lamb this time also nailed the conversion, 12-6.
The Worcester fly-half then had enough time to add an extra three points from the tee, meaning Worcester held a healthy 15-6 lead against their local rivals at the break.
The second half started the same as the first with Laidlaw slotting another penalty to close the gap, 15-9.
Next came a potentially game-changing moment in the M5 derby as Worcester’s Faosilva was shown red for leading with his forearm and catching Mariano Galarza plum on the chin.
Nevertheless, this didn’t deter the hosts as 20-year-old half-time replacement Humphreys got in for their third try. Lamb’s conversion though was caught in the wind and missed, meaning they had an 11-point buffer with 22 minutes remaining.
The visitors had to respond and, to their credit they did. Off the back of a scrum the Cherry and Whites flooded forward and centre Matt Scott, who touched down a brace last weekend, turned on the afterburners to finish under the posts. Laidlaw then added the conversion with 17 minutes to go, 2016.
After Scott’s try, replacement Tom Heathcote’s penalty gave Worcester a seven-point cushion but Purdy went at the left corner nine minutes from time, Laidlaw converted and, despite being camped on the Worcester 22, the Cherry and Whites could not find another way through.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Jackson Willison, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Marco Mama, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 James Johnston, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 Mike Daniels, 19 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 20 Carl Kirwan, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Perry Humphreys
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 James Hook, 23 Mark Atkinson