Bryce Heem’s brace of tries may have grabbed the spotlight, but Dean Ryan praised his front row’s destructive performance after Worcester Warriors beat Gloucester Rugby at Sixways.
New-Zealender Heem completed a first-half double and Niall Annett powered over in the second half and while James Hook did his best to drag Gloucester back into the tie, Worcester held out.
Hook scored a try, two penalties and two conversions, but Tom Heathcote steadied the ship with a final three-pointer to complete Worcester’s third win in four games and their first back-to-back home victories in three months.
And Ryan insisted it was the big men up front who laid the foundation for a win that goes a long way to securing Aviva Premiership Rugby next season.
"Full credit to our front row, they made a very serious mark against some powerful opponents," the former England back row said.
"They won the game for us and when you see their prop, John Afoa, dragged off the field, you know how much damage they've done.
"We now look a decent side as we have been getting better all season. The young group of players have never shied away from the challenge but we are getting more consistent.
"There has always been the pressure of relegation but we have had opportunities to get rid of that pressure but we haven't been clinical enough for whilst our performances have been good, our results haven't."
The Cherry & Whites had been one of the form teams in the league, with four wins in their last five before today, including a 13-10 victory over red-hot Wasps last week.
Director of Rugby David Humphreys though, seemed bemused by the drop in performance seven days after scalping Dai Young’s side.
"I can't believe the difference between this week and last. Even if you are a little bit off your game, you won't win at this level as there's so much at stake,” he said.
"We conceded early, which gave Worcester and their crowd momentum and it just wasn't good enough.
"There was a lack of physical edge and we were under pressure at the set scrum, which was unusual as we have been good there all season."
It was not all doom and gloom for the former Ireland stand-off and he lauded the longevity of prop Nick Wood, who was making his 200th Aviva Premiership Rugby performance for Gloucester.
"Nowadays you don't normally stay with a club that long so it's a huge honour for a front row player to make 274 appearances for one club," he said.
"It's just disappointing that we didn't make it a day to remember for him.”
Worcester Warriors: Pennell; Heem, Olivier, Mills (Symons, 68), Vuna; Heathcote, Hougaard ; Ruskin (Leleimalefaga, 64), Annett , Schonert (Johnston, 64) ; O’Callaghan, Barry; Dowson (Betty, 71), Kirwan, van Velze
Not used: Sowery, Sanderson, Baldwin, Lamb
Gloucester Rugby: Cook (McColl, 53); Sharples, Meakes (Trinder, 54), Twelvetrees, Halaifonua; Hook, Heinz (Braley, 5); Wood (Thomas, 53), Hibbard (Dawidiuk, 61) , Afoa (Doran-Jones,61); Savage, Thrush (Galarza, 55); Kalamafoni, Kvesic, Moriarty (Ludlow, 57)
Tries: Heem 2, Annett
Conversions: Heathcote 2
Penalties: Heathcote 3
Tries: Meakes, Hook
Conversions: Hook 2
Penalties: Hook 2
Referee: Ian Tempest