Gloucester hold on to sink Worcester in Aviva Premiership clash
Gloucester just held off a determined Worcester challenge to win a thrilling Aviva Premiership game at Kingsholm 24-22.
The home side dominated up front but the Warriors would not lie down and made the hosts fight all the way for a narrow victory.
Billy Burns galvanised Gloucester after coming on as a 50th minute replacement for out-of-form skipper Billy Twelvetrees - and it was he who created the decisive try for David Halaifonua.
Richard Hibbard and Sione Kalamafoni also scored tries for the Cherry and Whites, with Twelvetrees kicking three penalties.
Cooper Vuna (two) and Niall Annett scored the tries for the visitors with Tom Heathcote converting two and Ryan Mills adding a penalty.
Gloucester were ahead within two minutes of the start. An excellent kick from James Hook gave them a line-out in the opposition 25, from which Hibbard drove over for the try - but Twelvetrees missed the conversion.
From the restart, the home side gifted Warriors an easy try when Vuna intercepted a telegraphed pass from Bill Meakes for a simple run in. Heathcote converted to put the visitors in front.
The frenetic opening continued when Meakes collected a careless Heathcote pass to race away and win Gloucester a penalty. The kick at goal was declined in favour of another attacking line-out but on this occasion the Worcester defence held firm.
Minutes later, Warriors were penalised at a scrum for Twelvetrees to kick a penalty to regain the lead before Gloucester scored a splendid try. From a position on the halfway line, Meakes, Jonny May and Twelvetrees all handled in sparkling fashion to create the score for Kalamafoni.
Twelvetrees was off target with that conversion but succeeded with a penalty to give Gloucester a 16-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
A Mills penalty reduced the arrears before a converted try from Worcester ensured the lead changed hands once again. Hooker Annett went over from a driving line-out for Heathcote to convert.
After 34 minutes, the visitors conceded another scrum penalty for Twelvetrees to knock over his third goal. Just before the interval, he had another opportunity but his long distance rebounded back off a post - but Gloucester deservedly still led 19-17 at the end of a breathtaking first half.
A knock-on by Heathcote gave the hosts early ascendancy in the second half but Gloucester failed to capitalise as Twelvetrees made a couple of elementary errors.
Both Heathcote and Twelvetrees were replaced as Worcester stunned the home side with their third try. An excellent movement from deep inside their own half enabled Chris Pennell to splinter the home defence to send Vuna in for his second. Former Gloucester player Ryan Lamb, on for Heathcote, missed the conversion.
Replacement Burns brought a new dynamism to Gloucester's game. He made one clean break, which came to nothing, but a second created a try for Halaifonua.
This gave Gloucester a 24-22 lead at the end of the third quarter and they looked to have extended it when a pass from Meakes sent May flying over in the corner but the referee controversially disallowed it for a forward pass.
It did not matter as Gloucester dominated the final period. Warriors could not match them in the scrums and following a succession of penalties, visitors' prop, Nick Schonert, was yellow carded - but the hosts could not take advantage and failed to obtain a bonus point.