Worcester 24 Gloucester 33
By Brian Dick
Not even a try after 50 seconds could solve Worcester's early season problems as they sunk to their fifth Premiership defeat in as many games.
Although Shane Drahm's inspired scamper gave his side the start they craved, they could not hold on nor prevent the Cherry and Whites returning to the top of the league in a distressing evening for the men from Sixways.
They will no doubt claim some positives from an entertaining derby but they must also be aware that their inability to put more than seven points past a team reduced to 13 men for more than eight first half minutes - they also conceded three during that time - ultimately cost them the game.
Had Worcester begun the season the way they opened this game they would not be in such a poor position - winless and bottom of the league.
They tore into their guests with a fervour reserved for old friends. The opening kick-off was recovered and Drahm demonstrated both his creative and competitive juices were flowing when he released Kai Horstmann with a delicious reverse pass.
The No 8 was downed but Gloucester's defensive damn was burst and when Drahm reversed the direction of the play he was given the freedom of their 22.
The former Northampton man jinked through the fringes and weaved his way across the remaining 20 metres to go over close to the posts. That made his conversion a simple one.
But far from being cowed by the onslaught the visitors responded positively and might have drawn level when Ryan Lamb charged down Drahm's clearance only for the ball to bounce dead.
It was only a temporary reprieve. The hosts strayed offside as Lee Best fielded Lamb's grubber and although they repelled the resulting catch and drive routine, a powder puff tackle in midfield allowed Jack Adams to wriggle free to score. Lamb levelled.
After that, Gloucester lost their discipline and having picked up no yellow cards in four games, they were shown two in three minutes as Peter Buxton and James Forrester were binned for technical infringements.
Working with a two-man advantage Worcester knew they had to make it tell - and so they did after 31 minutes, when it looked as though they had squandered a promising opportunity.
Undermanned Gloucester thought they had cleared the danger when they hacked into home territory only for Thomas Lombard and Drahm to lead a dazzling counter-attack. Drahm released Best who scooted round the outside, drew the cover and gave Dale Rasmussen a relatively straight-forward run in.
Drahm's extras made it 14-7. Lamb narrowed the gap three minutes later with his first penalty and try as they might the hosts could not turn their numerical supremacy into further points and the half ended 14-10. Things started to go south immediately after the restart, however. This time Gloucester reclaimed the kick off and forced their opponents offside. Lamb cut the deficit to a point. Although Drahm responded in the 48th minute with three more his opposite number was in the groove and he fired over two further penalties shortly afterwards.
When, just after the hour, Anthony Allen bagged his side's second try the evening looked over as a contest.
Lamb probed for a gap and sucked in defenders which meant Forrester had time to stay on his feet and offload to Allen. The young centre speared through on a hurtful angle to score.
Proceedings ended with Lombard and Iain Balshaw exchanging tries but it was clear for all to see who was happier with the night's trading and it wasn't Worcester.