Gloucester v Worcester

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Gloucester Rugby v Worster Warriors | Thursday 17 December | Kingsholm Stadium




Gloucester will be looking to secure their participation in the next round of the European Challenge Cup when they take on Worster for the second time in the space of seven days this Thursday. For their opponents, this game represents nothing more than an opportunity to salvage some pride as they are out of the running for a playoff spot.

The 'Cherry and Whites' impeccable second half display saw them beat Worster by 12 points in the reverse leg. They will now look to put the cherry on top of their impressive European campaign by sealing qualification for the knockout rounds with a game to spare.


To Win Match
Gloucester 1/50
Draw 66/1
Worcester 9/1
Handicap
Gloucester (-24.5) 17/20
Worster (+24.5) 17/20

Gloucester
Let's get the negative aspects of Gloucester's M5 derby performance out of the way. Firstly, their handling skills in the first stanza left much to be desired. While you know you're in for a few knock ons and the occasional falcon (when a player gets hit in the head with the ball while attempting to catch a pass) when you're watching a game of European Rugby, Gloucester took the handling errors count to well above the usual average. On top of this, their players first half defensive displays were not up to scratch. For a side who prides themselves on hitting hard, it was strange to see the men in hoops falling off tackles as frequently as Charlie Sheen falls off the wagon.

Worcester exposed their opponents first half frailties by scoring on the 15-minute mark. Lax defending saw Andy Symonds break through a half gap, and then move the ball on to Dean Hammond. Once the South African-born winger received the ball there was no stopping him. Worcester flyhalf, Jack Lamb, made no mistake with the conversion and moved his side four points clear of their much-fancied opponents.

Gloucester would restore parity late on in the second half, though, when Worster prop Gareth Milasinovich was sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements, Gloucester decided to negate a kickable penalty and instead stick the ball in the corner. After a few phases, inside centre Mark Atkison found himself at first receiver. The big man showed brilliant vision when instead of deciding to carry the ball up or pass it down the line, he chose to cross kick. A perfectly weighted kick fell into the grateful hands of winger Henry Purdy who went over for his and his side's first try of the game.

Purdy would cross the whitewash to complete his double 53 minutes into the game. The flying winger popped up in the centres and charged his way over the line. Billy Burns then compounded Worcester's misery by scoring shortly after Purdy. Worcester scored a consolation try through Mike Daniels, but it didn't even add respectability to the scoreline as Stevie McColl and Billy Twelvetrees both scored tries to ensure Gloucester would claim a vital bonus point victory.

With a chance to secure qualification this weekend, Gloucester mentor, David Humphries is unlikely to rotate his squad. The former Irish international has seemingly overcome his addiction for fielding experimental sides, and his starting lineup is a lot more balanced than it was a few weeks ago.

Worcester
Three games played and only four points to their names; this is the predicament Worcester find themselves in. The English club has struggled to adapt to the rigours of the tournament and are in real danger of bowing out with only a solitary victory to their names.

It's always hard for a team that has nothing to play for to lift their performance. To make matters worse for the Warriors, they will be playing in front of near on 16 500 Gloucester fans on Thursday.

So how do they approach this one? Well, coach, Dean Ryan, has already used this tournament to blood his young players, so I can't really suggest throwing on the fringe players and saving the stalwarts for domestic action. I think the Warriors youngsters just have to enjoy it and try and play their brand of rugby. They did that in the first stanza last weekend and it paid dividends. If they can replicate that performance and frustrate Gloucester, they may have a chance of leaving the Kingsholm Stadium with their pride still intact.

Verdict: Gloucester (-24.5) 17/20
The Cherrie and Whites have found some form and I can't see Worster keeping them within the margin. Back Gloucester to clear the margin.

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