Worcester Warriors boss Carl Hogg hailed his team’s performance after they showed courage and commitment in bucket loads to hang on for a gutsy Aviva Premiership Rugby draw with Gloucester Rugby.
Hogg was left to rue the red card of flanker Alafoti Fa’osiliva on 50 minutes as Gloucester battled back to earn an unlikely 23-23 draw in the M5 derby at Sixways.
Greig Laidlaw scored 13 points with the boot – including a crucial late conversion to seal the draw, while late scores from Henry Purdy and Matt Scott hauled the Cherry and Whites back into the game.
Ryan Lamb kicked five points and was also instrumental in a score for Cooper Vuna as Worcester bounced back from last week’s mauling against defending champions Saracens at Twickenham.
Worcester new recruit Ben Te’o was also impressive for the Warriors before being replaced at the break, with a barnstorming display that produced a first-half score, while Perry Humphreys added a fantastic solo third score.
Hogg is still waiting for his first win at the Worcester helm but praised the bravery of his Warriors in the final few minutes.
Hogg said: “I’m disappointed with the outcome. I thought we weathered the storm in the first 20 minutes, soaked up some pressure and then got ourselves into the game.
“I think the red card totally changed things, going to 14 men with so long still to play was always going to be a very tough task for us.
“I thought we showed a huge amount of spirit and togetherness as a team, you saw the level of commitment, especially in that last 20 or 30 minutes when we were down to 14 men.
“We have got to challenge ourselves to get technically better, there are small margins that we can improve upon and that will make us more competitive.
“The big plus for us tonight though is that spirit and effort wiser I thought that performance was outstanding – I am very proud of the boys but we now need to improve on our accuracy.”
Scotland captain Laidlaw was a shining light for Gloucester with a fearless performance off the kicking tee, but for the second week running the Cherry and Whites were off the pace.
In Round 1 of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season Gloucester let a lead slip out of their grasp as Leicester Tigers produced a memorable comeback at Kingsholm.
And against Worcester, Laidlaw believes his colleagues were again off key but hailed the comeback and ability to snatch a draw.
“I think last year we would have lost this game and so that is a positive we can take out of the result,” said Laidlaw.
“We came here to play a lot of rugby and that’s what we did but I thought Worcester managed the clock very well after going down to 14 men.
“There were some unforced errors but I think it was a lack of concentration. We just need to concentrate on doing one job really, really well at the minute.
“I was really delighted we came back and got something out of the game, in previous games I don’t think we would have done that. We would have liked to have won the game but we have clawed our way back into it and got a deserved draw.”
Worcester Warriors: Willison; Hammond, Olivier, Te’o (Humphreys, 41), Vuna; Lamb (Heathcote, 62), Arr; Rapava Ruskin (Leleimalefaga, 66), Annett (Bregvadze, 63), Johnston (Daniels, 70), O’Callaghan, Barry (Scotland-Williamson, 70), Fa’osiliva, Mama, Dowson.
Replacements not used: Kirwan, Baldwin
Gloucester Rugby: Marshall (Hook, 62); Sharples, Scott, Twelvetrees (Atkinson, 46), Purdy; Burns (Heinz, 57), Laidlaw; Y Thomas (Orr, 57), Hibbard (Dawidiuk , 57), Afoa, Savage, Galarza (Latta, 51), Moriarty (Rowan, 34), Kvesic, Morgan.
Replacements not used: Doran-Jones
Referee: Luke Pearce
Worcester Warriors 23
Tries: Te’o, Vuna, Humphreys
Penalties: Lamb, Heathcote
Gloucester Rugby 23
Tries: Scott, Purdy
Conversions: Laidlaw 2
Penalties: Laidlaw 3