Gloucester ended a barren run of two months without a Guinness Premiership win to give themselves a huge psychological advantage for next week’s European Challenge Cup semi-final.
They scored two tries to one in beating ninth-placed Worcester Warriors in a tough Kingsholm derby.
Worcester threatened to take the spoils but two late tries from wing Mark Foster killed them off.
Gloucester had gone four league matches without a win and needed a victory to maintain any sort of challenge for a top four position and a play-off place.
Worcester needed to get as many points as possible if their slim ambitions of entering next season’s Heineken Cup through a mid-table finish were to be kept alive.
The tension was apparent as Warwickshire referee David Rose gave Kingsholm old boy Tony Windo a lecture after pushing and shoving at a ruck.
Worcester captain Pat Sanderson was told off twice after he did not see eye-to-eye with opposition back row men James Forrester and Peter Buxton.
The derby sparked into life when Gloucester centre Anthony Allen found a gap on half-way and sprinted downfield. The flashing movement saw Mike Tindall go right, give the ball to wing James Simpson-Daniel and then to full-back Olly Morgan, who cut inside flanker Tom Harding and crossed the line only for the referee to call it back for a forward pass from Simpson-Daniel.
The first points on the board came when Gloucester were accused of not releasing at a ruck and Warriors fly-half Shane Drahm booted a penalty from half-way.
Then Drahm and starlet Ryan Lamb, the opposite number 10, threw some punches at each other and were sin-binned.
Gloucester were awarded a penalty and, with Lamb the normal kicker, off the field, Tindall took over the duties to land a simple 15 metre shot in front of the posts.
It was not turning out to be young Morgan’s day as he was again denied a potential try after a forward pass from flanker Andy Hazell.
Eventually, the Worcester defence cracked although it was a controversial score. A run down the right by Buxton took him to the right corner. He passed to Simpson-Daniel who went over in the corner but, as the last-gasp tackle to stop him went in, the former England winger seemed to put his foot in touch.
Lamb, who returned to the action from the bin just before the break, extended Gloucester’s lead a few minutes into the second half with a penalty from 30 metres.
Worcester had only a few glimpses of the Gloucester line but one of them almost resulted in a try as full-back Thinus Delport and wing Gary Trueman were involved in a rush into the home 22 before the ball went to the centre and Drahm grubber kicked under the posts.
However, it was too hard for Rasmussen to latch onto as he crashed into the advertising hoardings. There was, though, some bonus for Worcester as the Cherry and Whites were offside and Drahm kicked a simple penalty under the posts.
The Warriors began fighting back and another mistake from the home side brought Worcester to within five points at 14-9.
Another Gloucester old boy, ex-England international Andy Gomarsall, grabbed the try the Warriors had been threatening when he ran through the fly-half position and scrambled over for a typical scrum-half touchdown. Drahm’s conversion gave Worcester the lead but a second Lamb penalty restored the home team’s advantage soon afterwards.
With six minutes left Gloucester seemed to have at last broken their barren spell when a sweeping move across the back line saw Tinll put Foster in on the right.
Then, bang on time, Foster got his second. This time Hazell supplied the vital pass that clinched victory.