Last gasp Gloucester grab draw
September 15, 2012
Ben Morgan takes the game to Worcester
© Getty Images
Freddie Burns slotted a penalty with the last kick of the game to earn Gloucester a 16-16 draw with the Worcester Warriors at Sixways.
Andy Goode looked to have secured victory for the Warriors just two minutes earlier after Gloucester skipper Jim Hamilton recklessly pushed Worcester lock James Percival at a lineout. But Worcester could not hold on, and Burns struck with the final kick of an otherwise dire contest to secure a draw.
Gloucester centre Henry Trinder and Worcester replacement prop James Currie scored second-half tries, while Goode slotted two penalties and his team-mate Joe Carlisle a penalty and conversion. Burns, who went on in the second period, slotted a penalty and conversion from his two kicks at goal and there was a penalty double from Billy Twelvetrees, but neither side covered themselves in glory.
Conditions were ideal for a free-flowing spectacle, yet both teams' repeated failure to master basic handling skills helped render the game largely a non-event. Scotland wing Nikki Walker made his Worcester debut after moving to Sixways from the Ospreys earlier this year, while there were first Gloucester starts for wing Shane Monahan - who replaced an injured Charlie Sharples - and Australian hooker Huia Edmonds.
Twelvetrees found his range inside the opening two minutes, landing a 50-metre penalty that served notice to the Warriors he meant business. Goode slotted an equalising strike 10 minutes later, although only after he required lengthy treatment following a crunching tackle by Gloucester scrum-half Dan Robson.
Despite a perfect playing surface, both sides struggled to string together meaningful attacking phases and Gloucester regained the lead through another Twelvetrees penalty. Goode, who stayed on in an attempt to run off his knock, missed two penalties but Worcester should have scored from their first notable attack.
Former England forward Chris Jones shrugged off a couple of weak Gloucester challenges to power towards the line, yet visiting full-back Jonny May executed a stunning tackle that ensured Gloucester retained their lead. The Warriors attempted to free Samoan wing speedster David Lemi at every opportunity, and although Gloucester marshalled him well, Worcester looked a more threatening attacking unit.
But Goode did not help his team's cause when he was sin-binned after taking out Trinder off the ball, and the visitors piled on pressure as half-time approached. Wing James Simpson-Daniel was guilty of a woeful blunder when he failed to gather possession with Worcester's line at his mercy, yet 14-man Worcester somehow held out under intense pressure, trooping off just three points adrift.
Carlisle took over kicking duties while Goode served his 10-minute spell on the sidelines, and an angled penalty success made it 6-6 in a game that badly needed some inspiration.
Gloucester boss Nigel Davies made his first substitutions just 13 minutes into the second period, one of which included Burns replacing Mike Tindall and Twelvetrees reverting to his more familiar inside centre position. Burns, who scored 39 points in Gloucester's opening two league games against Northampton and London Irish, looked to make an immediate impression on the contest.
He mixed his kicking game well but errors abounded around him until Gloucester struck with the game's first try 14 minutes from time. Monahan made it possible through a powerful touchline burst and, as Worcester defenders desperately scrambled back, the ex-Rotherham player's well-timed pass sent Trinder sprinting over.
Burns converted but Worcester stirred to set up a gripping finale the game hardly deserved when Currie ploughed over for a try that Carlisle improved. Gloucester found themselves stretched defensively for the first time and Worcester entered the final five minutes pushing hard to turn territorial dominance into points.
The victory they coveted looked to have arrived deep into injury time when Goode kept his nerve under intense pressure, but then Warriors' front-row infringed and Burns made it 16-16 with the game's final kick.
Worcester boss Richard Hill admitted life was "a bit cruel" after seeing his team denied victory for the second time this season by last-kick drama at Sixways. The Warriors were undone by an Olly Barkley injury-time penalty against Bath a fortnight ago, losing 24-23, while today it was Burns. "A little bit of inaccuracy right at the end has cost us two home wins in the last couple of weeks. It is a bit cruel, and a cruel blow for the players," Hill said. "We should have had a couple of scores in the first 30 minutes, yet we just lacked that little bit of composure, but there was a huge amount that was very positive today.
"Our defence was much-improved from last weekend against Leicester, and we've created numerous opportunities inside the opposition 22. Now, we've got to learn to be more composed just to finish those chances off. The players are working hard and giving everything they possibly can. For me, there are so many good signs. We will get there.
"The players are absolutely devastated in the dressing room. We've played Bath and Gloucester at home and we should have won both those games."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside