GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP: Worcester 17 Gloucester 14
Worcester Warriors head coach Clive Griffiths heaped praise on match-winner Thinus Delport after the Sixways side broke their Gloucester hoodoo with a dramatic Guinness Premiership victory.
The Warriors had never previously beaten their local rivals in top-flight action but former Springbok international Delport, who is leaving the club at the end of the season to play in Japan, scored a last-minute try to claim the points.
Griffiths said: "I'm sure Thinus enjoyed that against his old club. He has been outstanding for us, a tremendous professional and he has been a pleasure to work with.
"Since we moved him back to full back he has been a revelation. If anyone deserves the accolades it is Thinus.
"We set out this week to create a bit of history - that has been the theme and thank goodness we got over the line in the last seconds to achieve that. I am very proud for everyone concerned. The month of March has been particularly good for us with three wins and we could have had four.
"We defended much better in the second half. We were very poor first half around the ruck area and we tightened that up at half time. We had a few choice words for the players and fortunately we got a response.
"It is never over till it is over and we proved that. We needed that half a chance - this league is so tight and anything can happen. If you hang in there and defend well, like we did in the second half, you can win.
"I felt we created a few chances in the first half, we felt we could even do that in the second half into a strong wind and we just needed some possession and territory. We got that at the end and all credit to the boys for finishing it off."
Delport's unrestrained celebrations could provide a fitting memory for Worcester fans as he prepares to join Japanese club Kubota Spears this summer, along with current Warriors colleagues Shane Drahm and Drew Hickey.
It was Worcester's fourth Premiership game without defeat - a club record - and a first win in all competitions against Gloucester at the tenth attempt, and afterwards, Delport could hardly contain his delight.
"It is an awesome result for us," he said. "I had dreamt of that moment a couple of times - it's a great feeling. It is good to get one over on on our big brother from down the motorway."
Kiwi centre Sam Tuitupou put Worcester on the road to victory with a second-minute score, before young wing Miles Benjamin rounded off a fine team move to give the home side an unprecedented 12-0 first-half lead.
However, Gloucester showed their class and dominated long periods of the second half, claiming a slender lead courtesy of tries from England wing Lesley Vainikolo and scrum-half Rory Lawson - both of which were converted by fly half Ryan Lamb.
The home side soaked up the pressure, though, and claimed a memorable victory when Delport slid over the try line in the dying seconds.
From the kick-off, home captain Pat Sanderson stole possession at a ruck and shipped the ball to All Black centre Tuitupou who burst through the Gloucester defence and dived over the try line. Australian fly half Shane Drahm split the posts to give Worcester a dream start.
With 18 minutes on the clock, Worcester nearly doubled their advantage, but when scrum-half Matt Powell darted over the line referee Sean Davey adjudged the ball to have been held up.
It was only a temporary setback, though, as four minutes later pacy wideman Benjamin profited from excellent work between Powell, Delport and Marcel Garvey to grab Warriors' second try.
England full back Iain Balshaw nearly pulled a score back for the Cherry and Whites but, with the home try line beckoning, he was stopped dead in his tracks by a crunching Tuitupou tackle.
However, the away side's dominance paid off as the ball was worked out to Vainikolo, who stormed over Garvey's challenge to score. Lamb added the extras, while the concussed Garvey was stretchered off before being taken to hospital.
On the stroke of half-time, Lawson sniped round the side of a ruck and sprinted 20 metres to dive over beneath the posts. Lamb converted to give the visitors a 14-12 lead.
After the break, Lamb and then his replacement Willie Walker, piled pressure on Worcester with good tactical kicking, but the visitors could not find the score they needed to kill off the game.
And that came back to haunt them as the clock ticked down to full time. Sliding on the ball and taking it into his own in-goal area was all James Simpson-Daniel could do to prevent Tuitupou from claiming his second try.
But, from the resulting scrum, Warriors fired the ball out wide where Benjamin outrageously flicked the ball over his head to the on-rushing Delport who gleefully slid over to steal the points from his former employers.
Gloucester head coach Dean Ryan admitted: "We had every opportunity to have managed the game, but we just didn't do it. We left the opportunity out there for Worcester to mug us."
WORCESTER: Delport; Benjamin, Rasmussen, Tuitupou, Garvey (for Gear, 32); Drahm, Powell (for Arr, 71); Windo (for Morris, 54 (for Taumoepeau 76), Lutui, Taumoepeau (for Mullan 71), Rawlinson, Gillies, Wood (for Hickey 60), Sanderson, Horstmann.
GLOUCESTER: Morgan; Balshaw, Simpson-Daniel, Allen, Vainikolo; Lamb, Lawson; Wood, Titterrell, Nieto, Bortolami (capt), Brown, Strokosch, Qera, Narraway. Reps: Delve (for Strokosch, 59), Cooper (for Lawson, 59), Walker (for Lamb, 62), Paterson (for Balshaw, h/t).