Twelvetrees kicks Gloucester to dour but vital win
December 22, 2013
Josh Drauniniu of Worcester is knocked into touch during his side's defeat
© Getty Images
Four penalties from England international Billy Twelvetrees helped Gloucester leap to ninth place in the Aviva Premiership as bottom side Worcester remain without a league win.
Twelvetrees' strikes, against two from Worcester fly-half Ignacio Mieres, were all the sides could muster in a match delayed for 30 minutes in bizarre circumstances. As part of the pre-match entertainment, fans were invited onto the pitch to try to get one of two giant inflatable balls between the posts. They brought one side of the crossbar down at the Kingsholm Road end minutes before kick-off, with groundstaff frantically trying to repair the damage and get the game on while the teams waited in the dressing rooms.
The pre-match incident was the only light amusement for the packed 15,629 crowd, with what followed being of painfully poor quality. Handling errors, scrums that seemed to take an age to complete and aimless kicking left the game with very few highlights for an hour until one or two plays sparked it into some sort of life.
There was not much thought from either side on how to break down the other before the break as Worcester clawed their way back from an early deficit. Mieres kicked his first penalty after the early setback of Twelvetrees' opening score for Gloucester with two minutes gone.
The one piece of joined-up thinking that either side put together came midway through the half when home wing Charlie Sharples was caught on the Worcester 22, setting up a move across the back line which involved centre Mike Tindall but was stopped by a needless knock-on, leaving Worcester to clear the danger.
Twelvetrees got the scoreboard ticking over again with another penalty four minutes from the break after the Worcester pack where shoved back in a scrum at a rate of knots inside their own 22.
There were slight signs that the game might liven up in the opening moments of the second half but a scrum, which took a long two-and-a-half minutes to complete, summed-up the lameness of the encounter. Worcester, though, came away from that scrum the richer as home loosehead prop Nick Wood was accused of dropping the front row, giving Mieres a penalty shot from 22 metres which just about got over the crossbar after he skied the kick high into the air.
Gloucester edged back in front at 9-6 when pressure saw Worcester infringe in a tackle and Twelvetrees made it a third successful penalty out of five attempts.
Suddenly, a burst of energy from home replacement scrum-half Dan Robson saw Gloucester go further in front when the half-back ran to the line, was stopped and, from phase, the ball was spun across the backs where Worcester back row Richard De Carpentier was sin-binned for a high tackle.
Twelvetrees booted a fourth penalty but Worcester tried to hit back with their best period of play in the entire match as the afternoon wore down to its conclusion. Scrum-half replacement Paul Hodgson, the ex-England international, led a charge towards the home line where Paul Warwick came within centimetres of scoring but Gloucester cleared. And Gloucester managed to hold out as they played the final minutes of the match with 14 men as wing Jonny May saw a yellow card for a late tackle.
Mike Tindall is tackled by the doughty Worcester defence © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland