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Worcester remain winless as Gloucester surge to top

13 Oct 2006
Worcester remain winless as Gloucester surge to top

A record Sixways crowd could not roar their Worcester side to a first GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP victory of the season, despite seeing them score three tries. Instead Gloucester maintained their unbeaten start to the season and moved top of the table.

Gloucester moved top of the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP after precocious fly-half talent Ryan Lamb broke Worcester’s spirited resistance at Sixways.

Lamb displayed composure and maturity way beyond his 20 years to steer Gloucester home and make it five league games unbeaten this season.

Lamb’s impressive tactical awareness kept the visitors in contention after they trailed 14-7 and had two players – Peter Buxton and James Forrester – sin-binned within two minutes of each other for technical offences.

The youngster’s stirring example was followed by fellow 20-year-olds Jack Adams and Anthony Allen, who both scored tries to edge Gloucester above early Premiership pacesetters Bristol.

Full-back Iain Balshaw added the final try in his comeback game, while Lamb finished with 18 points as Gloucester also gained satisfaction from final-quarter substitute appearances by centre Mike Tindall and summer signing Carlos Nieto.

But it was difficult not to feel sorry for Worcester, whose fifth successive defeat of the league campaign came after they stood toe to toe with Gloucester during an absorbing tussle.

Fly-half Shane Drahm contributed 14 points, including a try, while there were also touchdowns for centres Dale Rasmussen and Thomas Lombard.

A losing bonus point also eluded them – it would have been some reward for Worcester’s unflinching effort – and they remain bottom of the Premiership pile.

The Warriors, without a league win since they beat Newcastle almost six months ago, were boosted by the return of Drahm and wing Aisea Havili after injuries, but they faced an intense examination against Dean Ryan’s resurgent Gloucester.

The west country club fielded an all-English back division with an average age of 23, while Balshaw – a relative veteran at 27 – made a first appearance since suffering an ankle injury on his Premiership debut for the club six weeks ago.

In a double boost for England head coach Andy Robinson ahead of the autumn Tests, Balshaw’s World Cup-winning colleague Tindall featured among the Gloucester replacements, having missed all six previous league and cup games this season due to calf muscle trouble.

Sixways was packed to a record attendance of just under 10,200, with the bumper crowd including Gloucester’s high-profile rugby league recruit Karl Pryce.

But the fired-up Warriors rocked Gloucester by slicing open their defence after just 50 seconds.

Number eight Kai Horstmann made the score possible through an exquisite offload that sent Drahm clear, and he easily rounded Balshaw to claim a superb try which the Australian fly-half also converted.

Gloucester were spurred into action by Worcester’s audacity, and it took them 10 minutes to recover before they drew level when Lamb converted a try he created through a pinpoint pass which put recipient Adams over.

However, the visitors continued to make life difficult for themselves, combining some wayward kicking with an occasional baffling decisions under pressure, and the wheels almost came off nine minutes before the end of a frantic first half.

Skipper Buxton was sin-binned for pulling down a maul deep inside his own 22 and Forrester followed him to the touchline two minutes later after he dived into a ruck from an offside position.

Gloucester suddenly found themselves with six forwards, facing a damage-limitation exercise, but Worcester’s second try was a long-range effort as full-back Lee Best and Drahm linked majestically before Rasmussen rounded off a sweeping move.

Drahm converted, yet Worcester failed to establish further inroads into depleted Gloucester ranks as a Lamb penalty made it 14-10 at the break.

Lamb slotted another three-pointer early in the second period, giving Gloucester renewed hope they could turn things around, although the Warriors responded to a loss of momentum by introducing back-row powerhouse Gavin Quinnell off the bench.

Drahm’s first successful penalty restored a four-point Worcester advantage, yet it was short-lived as technical indiscipline by Horstmann saw him yellow-carded and Lamb completing his penalty hat-trick.

Worcester continued to annoy referee Dave Pearson, and Gloucester went ahead for the first time in the 57th minute through Lamb’s fourth penalty as the visitors showed signs of gaining control.

Allen’s well-worked score put a degree of daylight between the teams and, despite Worcester threatening a breathless finish when Lombard gathered Drahm’s rolling kick and touched down seven minutes from time, Balshaw had the last word.


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