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No splitting hairs at Kingsholm

02 Jan 2010
No splitting hairs at Kingsholm

Lock Dave Attwood salvaged a dramatic draw for Gloucester with a try deep into injury time at Kingsholm.

Fly-half Carlos Spencer had the chance to win the game but sent the final kick – a touchline conversion attempt – narrowly wide and honours were shared.

Spencer’s fellow substitute Attwood struck with just 16 seconds left, and a draw was just about what Gloucester deserved after dominating second-half territory.

Worcester though, looked to have done enough to repeat last season’s GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP victory over Gloucester at Kingsholm and end an eight-month wait for a league away win.

First-half tries by wing Rico Gear and scrum-half Jonny Arr put Worcester in charge, while their former Gloucester back Willie Walker kicked a penalty.

The home side produced an early Akapusi Qera try and a second-half penalty from Nicky Robinson, but it was another sub-standard display in a miserable season by the Cherry and Whites.

The result leaves both clubs scrambling about in the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP’S bottom third.

And in a league of such small margins between success and failure, it seemed Gloucester would be left to rue three missed Robinson kicks as the Wales international endured an off-day.

But Attwood was the unlikely hero, leaving Worcester to reflect on a fourth draw from their last five GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP games and still no away win in the league since they triumphed at Gloucester in April.

Gloucester, beaten comfortably by their west country rivals Bath last time out, saw Dave Lewis deputise for injured scrum-half Rory Lawson, while wing Lesley Vainikolo and Qera gained recalls.

Warriors boss Mike Ruddock made three changes from the side that lost at home to Northampton on Boxing Day, handing starts to centre Dale Rasmussen, 37-year-old prop Olivier Sourgens and former Gloucester hooker Chris Fortey.

The opening eight minutes proved a comedy of errors as Gloucester moved 5-0 ahead.

Robinson missed an easy 25-metre penalty chance, but Worcester then gifted their opponents a try when Arr blundered.

Arr passed the ball straight to Qera from a set-scrum, and the Fijian galloped 30 metres unopposed for a try before Robinson botched a simple conversion.

Gloucester continued to dominate territory, despte Walker booting a 17th-minute penalty, and they should have scored a second try when Robinson’s slashing break found centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, but he was tackled just short of the line.

And Worcester made them pay 10 minutes later with a touchdown for Gear after patient approach work by the forwards pinned Gloucester deep inside their own 22.

It was the Warriors first try in open play for over seven hours and they struck again as half-time approached.

Gloucester saw wing Charlie Sharples limp off, then they had to defend desperately following a touchline break by Warriors flanker Tom Wood before Arr atoned for his earlier error.

Referee Dean Richards must have been tempted to award a penalty try against Gloucester following a series of scrums near their line that ended in the home side infringing.

But when Worcester attacked off the base of a scrum during injury-time, Arr found a gap to cut through and dive over.

Walker’s conversion attempt drifted narrowly wide, yet the visitors were good value for a 13-5 interval advantage.

Gloucester had been outmuscled in the scrums, so it was no surprise that coach Bryan Redpath made a half-time substitution, sending on Scotland international prop Alasdair Dickinson.

A Robinson penalty reduced Gloucester’s arrears to five points, but he missed a longer effort eight minutes later when Worcester infringed through a deliberate knock-on.

The game deteriorated into endless bouts of kicking by both sides, yet Worcester comfortably preserved their lead entering the final quarter.

Walker though, missed a 30-metre penalty chance that would have given Worcester breathing space, and Gloucester moved into their 22 as the clock ticked down.

Worcester had to defend grimly as Gloucester looked to rescue the situation by salvaging at least a draw, but they lacked composure and set-piece control at critical moments.

That was until the final move of the game, when Attwood ploughed over in the corner, and Spencer’s failed conversion from out wide meant it ended all square.

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