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Rugby Union: Foster repeat does for Warriors; EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP - Gloucester 31 Worcester 23.

Byline: By Gabi Lewis at Kingsholm

John Brain could have asked no more of his Warriors as they bade farewell to their chance of Heineken Cup qualification.

For the second successive week, Worcester succumbed to a late Mark Foster try that secured Gloucester their win. This time it bounced Brain's men out of the European Challenge Cup at the penultimate stage.

"We played a lot better than last week," Worcester's director of rugby said. "You can take losing when you perform reasonably well.

"We got ourselves in a winning position but then stopped playing the type of rugby that got us into that position."

Through Shane Drahm, who contributed 18 points and centres Thomas Lombard and Dale Rasmussen, Worcester thudded into a youthful back line, making the most of the platform their forwards had established.

As in the Premiership match seven days earlier, the Warriors dominated the tight phases, pilfering loose ball and keeping the pressure on their hosts for the first hour.

Drahm cancelled out Ryan Lamb's early penalty within 60 seconds before he and Pat Sanderson wiped out Gloucester's lead with tries to counter those by James Simpson- Daniel and Anthony Allen.

Lamb, only 19 and a precocious talent for England's Under-21s, set up Simpson- Daniel's touchdown with a sweet break through midfield that was taken on by Peter Richards, who fed the winger 35 metres out.

Allen was left facing a defensive vacuum after Simpson-Daniel, Peter Buxton and Andy Hazell had got the ball wide and the centre, also a star at Under-21 level, had a clear run to the posts to put his side 15-3 up inside 23 minutes.

But the power of the Warriors' scrum created the space for Drahm to dart over and when Kai Horstmann crashed through the middle with Phil Murphy in support, Sanderson had the simplest of scores. Drahm's second conversion pu this side 17-15 ahead at half time before his drop-goal and penalty.

Gloucester replacement full-back Ludovic Mercier punted 50-metre clearances and a penalty from distance to add to Lamb's earlier effort. Drahm missed a drop-goal attempt while his tiring pack lost their edge.

Lamb kicked a delectable high ball that Mercier gathered deep inside Worcester's half, recycling swiftly for Lamb to loft a hanging kick wide for Foster to beat Gary Trueman to the line. Lamb's touch line conversion reclaimed the lead and his last-minute penalty compounded Worcester's woes.

GLOUCESTER: Morgan (Mercier, 41)' Simpson-Daniel (Bailey, 41), Tindall, Allen, Foster' Lamb, Richards' Collazo, Davies, Powell (Forster, 66), Eustace (Pendlebury, 69), Brown, Buxton ( L Narraway, 41), Hazell, Forrester. Replacements: Elloway, Thomas.

WORCESTER: Le Roux' Oduoza, Rasmussen, Lombard, Trueman' Drahm, Powell' Windo, C Fortey, Taumoepeau (L Fortey, 80), Murphy (O'Donoghue, 74), Gillies, Sanderson, Harding (Vaili 69), Horstmann.

Replacements: Macdonald, Runciman, Brown, Whatling.

Referee: C Berdos (France).


Tom Harding, the Worcester forward, tackles James Simpson-Daniel, the Gloucester wing Picture/GETTY IMAGES
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 24, 2006
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