Gloucester Rugby U18 31 -17 Worcester Warriors U18 | Report by Joe Howard
A lovely evening for rugby had set up perfectly for the Gloucester Rugby U18s in their first home game of the season against their M5 rivals Worcester Warriors.
Gloucester Rugby U18s were looking to build on a huge performance the week before where they did something that the U18s had not been able to do for a few seasons in beating Leicester Tigers.
Worcester would be no easy task with the Warriors looking to turn their fortunes around after a poor showing the week before against Exeter Chiefs. With the sun setting on a calm evening both teams were raring to go as the referee blew his whistle at 7pm.
It was Gloucester who struck on the scoreboard first, after starting well winning penalties off the kick-off as well as a late tackle they gained field position with outstanding tactical kicks from both Morgan Adderly-Jones (Hartpury College) and Conor Murphy (Hartpury College) putting Gloucester 5 meters out with a driving opportunity. The forwards set for the drive however the ball was played out and the Worcester defence was split by a beautifully run line by Ellis Hart (Hartpury College) who beat the fullback then offloaded in Sonny Bill-William’s fashion to Murphy who scored under the sticks then adding the points.
Similar to Gloucester at the other end of the pitch the Worcester forwards drove the ball up until the 9 took the ball blind himself and dotted down in the corner. The boys in Cherry and White had to respond well and win the momentum back in their favour and that is exactly what they did. After a free kick was conceded by Worcester the Gloucester forwards trucked the ball up and leading the charge with big carries was captain Rob Nixon (Sir Thomas Rich’s). With gain line momentum being made and the ball exiting the ruck quickly Adderly-Jones pulled the trigger by sweeping around the ruck calling for the ball, then on his outside Iwan Glynn (Hartpury College) only had scoring on his mind and that is what he did after slicing through the defence by receiving a flat pass from Adderly-Jones to score. Murphy could not add the extras.
Worcester kicked off to the same area they had previously but to no success as the ball again was taken beautifully by Albert Taylor (Dean Close School) who throughout the whole game secured the ball well off kick off. The game began to build up phases and it was not till a Worcester scrum that was put under huge pressure from the Gloucester front row, which inevitably led to the Warriors backline turning the ball over that a penalty was conceded. Gloucester caught them napping, opting to take the penalty quickly, Danny Eite (Hartpury College) stayed on top of the Warriors by running the ball up and winning another penalty. Again 5 metres out Gloucester drive the ball up and after building pressure from pick and goes eventually the Worcester defence cracks and Jim Lascelles (Hartpury College) goes over to score.
Gloucester began to seriously play some good rugby reflective of the team's culture. Tactical defending from the Gloucester backline by getting in the Worcester playmakers eyeline caused a turnover and after a few phases later Gloucester win a free kick. A well-run move and slick hands lead to a bust on the edge by Ben Peters (Dean Close School) who nearly goes all the way however a tackle puts the ball 20 meters from the Worcester try line. Eite was in no mind of letting Worcester exit easily and steals the lineout after reading it well. A subsequent penalty was awarded to Gloucester a few phases later and again Gloucester set up for a lineout 10 metres out. The forwards win the ball and with James Pollard (Dean Close School) pulling the ball out and going round the front giving the ball to Joe Adams (Hartpury College) who scores. The try is received well by the team who start to cheer and celebrate, cheers the Worcester players would have heard and perhaps gave them the kick they needed.
After receiving the kick, Gloucester instead of exiting like they previously had looked to play from their own half. This eventually comes to bite them as a kick is charged down and the Worcester 7 collects the crumbs and runs in from 35 out to score. The 10 adds the extras. As halftime approaches the Worcester wingers come alive both making breaks on the edge. After sustaining a high amount of pressure Gloucester turnover the ball with George Merritt (Dean Close School) reacting well to an overthrown lineout. The ball is then shipped wide well by the backs leading to another break on the edge by Peters. Gloucester win a penalty just before the end of the first third and go for the points however the upright is hit and Worcester exit.
Gloucester started the second third kicking off and immediately showed the intensity they showed in the first third had not been lost, with Eite and Nixon dominating the Worcester player who received the ball. Both sides over the next ten minutes show promise however keep failing to retain the ball, after what was a great line from Samak (Hartpury College) is called back for an accidental block and a line break from Eite is turned over after supporting players fail to clean the ruck before Worcester get the jackal. Gloucester do not seem to be able to find the final 10% they had in the first third. Gloucester are able to launch effectively from their set piece with the forward pack again winning clean ball. This was a staple for the pack the whole game with a near 100% lineout completion rate.
Despite the Gloucester subs making impacts with Will Hurn (Sir Thomas Rich’s) getting stuck in early looking for work, a penalty which looked to go Gloucester’s way was awarded to Worcester which put them in an attacking position. After the Worcester forwards drive the ball up the backs call for the ball and manage to shift the ball wide quickly and score in the corner. After receiving the kick off Worcester look to play from their own half, something that both sides are beginning to do more at this stage of the game. Both teams fail to make any serious ground with free kicks and penalties being awarded to both sides.
It is not until a change of play from a lineout by Gloucester which sees them held up 7 meters out from the line that the momentum begins to shift in Gloucester's favour.
With good carries from Henry Pearson (Hartpury College) Gloucester begin to look dangerous. A ball is kicked into the Worcester backfield and after a great chase from Nathan Thomson-Lee (Hartpury College) who manages to tackle the Worcester player into touch, Gloucester have an attacking lineout. Worcester defend the attack well and manage to rip the ball from the Gloucester carrier however they do not react, but Samak does and catches them napping scooping the ball up and goes from 30 metres out to score just before the end to the second third.
The final third gets underway with a Worcester kick off and despite no points being scored in the final third some great rugby was played by both sides. Worcester looked like the team that wanted to have the ball this third and attack but what they were not expecting was the grit and resilience shown by the boys in Cherry and White. Huge tackles from Sam Anson (Cleeve School) and Eite allow Thomson-Lee to get off the line and catch man and ball to force the ball into touch.
A few minutes later a flurry of big tackles come in one after each other from the likes of Anson, Dom Hey (Hartpury College) and Hurn. All showing the depth in this academy side. After losing ground through penalties and talking back to the ref it looked certain that this Worcester side who have come alive to score however the Gloucester Rugby defence stands firm and does not budge an inch with the whole team buying into the defence as a collective.
Big tackles and carries from Hey dent Worcester’s motivation and allows Gloucester to exit however the ball does not leave the field and Worcester run the ball back in what is now end to end rugby. Again it looks like Worcester will draw the first blood of this third however the determination of the Gloucester boys does not give in and numerous players make a last ditch effort and manage to keep the ball from crossing their line. Anson eventually wins the ball back for Gloucester and the ball subsequently goes dead putting an end to a very hectic third.
Overall a great game from Gloucester that puts them two from two and in good stead for the rest of the academy season. The game was epitomized by Gloucester’s untouchable lineout as well as their unwavering defensive attitude even when the game was all but won.
When asked what the main messages to the boys would be going into their next fixture Junior Academy Manager Alex Guest had the following to say “Moving into the wasp game there's a few little bits that can easily be tidied up but overall the boys can be quite happy defensively”.
Matt Teague was impressed by the determination of the side.
"The behaviours and actions of the boys were what stood out against Worcester, the grit and determination that got us over the line against Leicester was there in abundance despite not quite nailing our fundamentals.
We now have a great opportunity to improve in certain areas over the next two weeks, in the lead up to what will be another tough fixture against Wasps."