Captain Chaos Jonny May steals last-gasp Gloucester victory
GLOUCESTER 29 WORCESTER WARRIORS 23
CAPTAIN Chaos Jonny May restored Kingsholm order with a final-play break to stun battling Worcester – and keep Gloucester’s play-off dream alive.
The 22-year-old jet-heeled wing blasted from one 22 to the other, then scythed off his flank with an explosive sidestep.
Wrong-footed Warriors full-back Errie Claassens jutted out a despairing shin, and tripped the stealthy flyer.
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Gloucester forged on undeterred, until Ryan Mills fumbled a loose Dave Lewis pass.
That should have sounded the final whistle – but the Television Match Official offered Gloucester the greatest reprieve.
Referee David Rose referred the decision on Claassens’ trip to the TMO – and he ruled the South African’s actions warranted not just a red card, but also a penalty try to Gloucester.
Suddenly a 23-22 defeat morphed into a 29-23 victory, with Rob Cook’s easy conversion.
Incensed Worcester believed they had enough covering defenders to provide sufficient doubt against a penalty-try call.
Gloucester boss Nigel Davies felt the trip warranted sanction – but preferred to focus on his side’s guts to turn the game on its head at the death.
The entire night was an oddity from start to finish, with lacklustre Gloucester gifting Worcester almost all their points, even though the embattled Warriors grafted admirably.
The Ancient Greeks believed Chaos was the god of the void, that turned nothing into the basis for the universe.
Davies will settle for Wootton Bassett deity May simply rescuing Gloucester from the abyss of another home defeat.
“Any result is a good result in this league,” explained the relieved Cherry and Whites boss.
“We’d put ourselves under pressure with elements of our play, and we had to throw everything at the last couple of minutes.
“So it’s always nice when you can come back and win a game like that.
“We worked hard right through the 80, giving ourselves a chance.
“And when you get people like Jonny May in space, they are going to create chaos, that’s what he did, and as a result of that we were awarded the penalty try.
“I’m most focused on the fact we played for 80 minutes.
“If Jonny wasn’t tripped would he have scored, who knows.
“But he shouldn’t have been tripped in the first place, so a decision always had to be made.
“We showed a lot of character and a lot of spirit.
“There were patches of good play, and then there were periods where we just fed Worcester.
“Our kicking in the first-half was atrocious, we kicked down their throats and put a lot of pressure on ourselves, it was aimless really.
“And again, their try from the intercept was pretty aimless stuff.
“But there were some good things in there as well.
“The character has been fundamental to this ground, and it carried us through again.
“To come back and create that chaos in the last play, they deserve a lot of credit for that.”
This was supposed to be the night Mike Tindall toasted his 150th competitive Gloucester appearance, by leading his side to season-affirming victory.
This was supposed to be the night Gloucester finally settled into their Kingsholm swing under Nigel Davies.
It was supposed to be the night when Gloucester blasted back to top scrummaging and tight-play form.
Instead Tindall suffered a hip injury just minutes before kick-off, the home jitters hit the Cherry and Whites once again, and the set-piece continued to fluctuate between excellence and inconsistency.
A topsy-turvy evening was topped off by the Fire Brigade putting in an appearance.
As Gloucester wiped their collective brow in the Kingsholm changing rooms, in their overwhelming relief they forgot to open the air vents.
Steam built, alarm sounded – and the engine rolled into the Kingsholm car park.
Until May’s last-gasp field-length dart, the emergency services seemed Gloucester’s only possible saviours.
Josh Matavesi strolled through Gloucester’s backline after Henry Trinder raced out of defence, fluffed his positioning and let the Warriors centre through on his inside.
No sooner had Trinder hung his head under the posts as Andy Goode converted though, than he sparked Gloucester to life.
The fit-again outside centre set May free down the left wing – and he in turn returned the favour, providing the pass that allowed Trinder to race in for Gloucester’s first score.
The hosts had a 13-10 lead at the break then, that they quickly extended with two Rob Cook penalties at the start of the second-half.
Gloucester should have kicked on from that position and won at a canter.
Instead they imploded, first allowing Worcester to dominate the kicking battle and the territory stakes – and then throwing one too many risky passes in their own 22.
Alex Grove pounced on the most ludicrous risk of all, and powered home for Worcester’s second try.
Goode converted, before Danny Gray then slotted a penalty to pilfer the lead, to cancel out another Cook three-pointer.
Staring down the barrel of another miserable home loss though, Gloucester launched one final assault.
Somehow the home side worked the ball wide for May in space – and the chaotic broken-field scavenger feasted on his field-length break.
Claassens stuck out a leg, and after a big deliberation, penalty try it was - and that was that.
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples, H Trinder, T Molenaar, J May, R Mills, D Robson (D Lewis, 76), D Murphy (N Wood, 53), D Dawidiuk (H Edmonds, 64), R Harden (D Chistolini, 71 – reversed 72), L Lokotui, W James, T Savage, A Qera (A Hazell, 64), S Kalamafoni. Unused: P Buxton, S Monahan, M Thomas.
WORCESTER WARRIORS: E Claassens, C Pennell, A Grove, J Matavesi (J Drauniniu, 61), D Lemi, A Goode (D Gray, 64), J Arr (P Hodgson, 68), M Mullan, E Shervington (A Lutui, 64), E Murray (J Andress, 68), J Percival (capt), D Schofield (C Gillies, 62), S Betty (J Abbott, 68), M Kvesic, B Cowan. Unused: C Jones.
WORCESTER: Betty (30).
WORCESTER: Claassens (80).
GLOUCESTER: Tries: Trinder (39), Penalty (80). Cons: Cook 2 (39, 80). Pens: Cook 5 (7, 9, 42, 44, 70)
WORCESTER: Tries: Matavesi (37), Grove (61). Cons: Goode 2 (37, 61). Pens: Goode 2 (16, 46), Gray (75).
REFEREE: David Rose.