Jack Clement scored the fourth of Gloucester’s seven tries

Fighting Worcester put in a spirited display but began their defense of the Rugby Premier League Cup with a 49-21 defeat by Gloucester at Kingsholm.

The home side raced into a 14-0 lead before Harry Doel and Finn Theobald-Thomas scored tries to equalize for the Warriors.

But Jack Reeves, Jack Clement, Tom Seabrook and a Freddie Thomas brace cleaned up the Cherries and Whites despite a consolation point from Ollie Morris.

In the second tie of the night, London Irish beat Harlequins 30-26.

Last season’s beaten finalists threatened to overcome Queens when they led 17-0 after nine minutes, Patrick Harrison, Michael Dykes and Hugh O’Sullivan all crossing in a dramatic four-minute burst.

The momentum wavered as Quins found their feet, but Jonny Green’s try on his debut and Will Edwards’ conversion were their only responses in the first half as the Irish defense made a big shift.

An Alex Harms try after an Edwards goal and two Jennings penalties put the Irish 30-14 up with 18 minutes remaining.

Two quick tries from Sam Riley and Cassius Cleves took Quin’s to within four points but the Irish held on.

The Warriors are showing spirit on the field despite the turmoil off it

The Group A opener was a repeat of last season’s semi-final, but much has happened since Worcester beat Gloucester en route to raising the cup in May.

The besieged visitors were given a threat of suspension on Wednesday by the RFS if they don’t find a solution to their ongoing financial struggles by Monday.

The struggle to register enough players for the game meant the squad arrived with just 22 men, including academy coach Johnny Goodridge, 41, and Matt Gilbert, 37, who resigned in April.

The visitors may have feared the worst after Reeves came on and Arthur Clarke converted from the thunderbolt in the 15th minute.

But the Warriors began a stirring comeback, with Charlie Tycombe’s brilliant cross allowing Doel to level the scores before beleaguered Gloucester were reduced to 14 men when Clement was sent off in the bin.

The Theobald-Thomas Academy hooker broke in and Titkam’s second conversion leveled the score.

But the Cherries and Whites regained control after the break when Reeves added a second try, quickly followed by Clement and Seabrook.

Morris responded with Worcester’s third try, but any faint hopes were dashed by a late brace from Thomas, while George Barton capped a perfect night from the tee with his seventh conversion.

It was brutal from a scrappy Worcester side, who will now be hoping this is not the last match of the competition as their fight for a sustainable future continues.

Worcester academy forwards and transition coach Chris Morgan told BBC Worcester and Hereford:

“After 60 minutes we were right in the game. Our lack of experience and cohesion told after that, but they didn’t fail for lack of effort.

“Now it’s week by week and day by day. It’s incredibly difficult for everyone at the club, the fans and the staff, but you’ve seen the emotion the players put out on the pitch.

“The senior group came to support and were on the pitch afterwards to applaud the efforts of all the lads who came and to thank the invited players. It’s fantastic in these difficult times – good people shine through.”


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