Worcester eyeing Premiership safety after claiming Gloucester scalp
Worcester took a giant stride towards avoiding relegation from the Aviva Premiership with a 28-20 victory over Gloucester at Sixways.
New Zealand wing Bryce Heem crossed for a brace of first-half tries while Niall Annett was also on the scoresheet as third-bottom Worcester recorded their fifth win of the season.
For Gloucester, James Hook contributed 15 of their points with a try, two penalties and two conversions while he also made their other try for Bill Meakes, but despite his efforts, the visitors could not continue their winning run against their neighbours.
The Cherry and Whites had won all three of their previous meetings with Worcester this season, twice in the European Challenge Cup and once in the league, while they had also won four of their last five matches in the Premiership.
However, it was Worcester who were quickest out of the blocks and they never trailed after taking a second-minute lead through Heem's opening try.
A speculative kick ahead by Ryan Mills was collected by Heem, who brushed aside weak tackles from Rob Cook and David Halaifonua to score.
Tom Heathcote converted and within minutes Gloucester - for whom Nick Wood became their first player to make 200 Premiership appearances - had suffered further blows as Will Heinz limped off to be replaced by Callum Braley before Hook missed with a penalty attempt.
Despite these early setbacks, it was the visitors who dominated the first quarter, pinning the Warriors in their own half to deservedly draw level. A neat chip ahead from Hook was picked up by Meakes, who scored under the posts for Hook to convert.
Heathcote and Hook exchanged penalties before the Worcester fly-half was unlucky with another attempt as his 50-metre shot rebounded back off a post.
Heathcote had another kickable opportunity almost immediately but this time Warriors elected to go for an attacking line-out.
It paid dividends as first Gloucester flanker Ross Moriarty was sin-binned before Worcester moved the ball wide for Heem to force his way over for his second try, giving the hosts a 15-10 lead at the end of an evenly-contested first half.
Five minutes into the second half, Moriarty returned from the bin with no further damage done to the scoreboard but the momentum remained with Worcester.
A well-judged kick from Francois Hougaard saw Cook fumble and knock on five metres from his own line to give the hosts an excellent platform.
Worcester capitalised when Annett forced his way over for Heathcote to convert.
Hook responded with his second penalty but his side were still trailing 22-13 at the end of the third quarter.
Gloucester made a number of changes in an attempt to turn the game in their favour with Henry Trinder and Steve McColl replacing Meakes and Cook in the back division.
The substitutions made no immediate impact as Worcester went further ahead with a second Heathcote three-pointer after the beleaguered visiting pack conceded another penalty at the set scrum.
After 66 minutes Gloucester came back into the game when Hook dummied his way over for a try, which he converted to bring his side to within five points but a late Heathcote penalty sealed a vital win.