Gloucester 55 Worcester Warriors 19

ANOTHER defensive horror show on their travels has pushed Worcester Warriors closer to the Aviva Premiership trap door.

And this seven-try pounding at Kingsholm could leave lasting scars on the struggling visitors, who are just one point above basement boys Bristol.

With the Ashton Gate outfit visibly improving, the manner of this derby capitulation will send shivers down the spine of most Worcester’s followers.

For such an important match, it’s inconceivable that Carl Hogg’s side could play so woefully with their top-tier status on the line.

Yet it was the second time in three away league fixtures that second-from-bottom Worcester had shipped 50-plus points and looked rudderless.

They conceded 31 points in the second half and were barely recognisable from the side who played with such hunger and desire in a 24-17 win against Harlequins six days earlier.

And Gloucester didn’t do anything special – they simply took advantage of gaping holes in Worcester’s defence to run riot.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Warriors now have the worst defensive record in the Premiership – leaking 18 more points than Bristol.

Hogg had called for a fast start but Cooper Vuna spilled the kick-off and Michael Dowsett kicked the ball out on the full as Warriors opened badly.

The early errors set the tone for the match and Gloucester took a firm grip to open up a 17-0 lead after just 19 minutes.

Greig Laidlaw’s early penalty put Gloucester ahead before the lively Jonny May went over for the first try, which the scrum-half converted.

Matt Scott grabbed Gloucester’s second try after good work from May, following a turnover in midfield, to give the hosts a 17-point cushion.

Warriors failed to finish off promising breaks from Alafoti Fa’osiliva and Darren Barry, who had exposed the Gloucester midfield, before Ryan Mills missed a penalty.

However, Vuna atoned for his earlier error with a superb individual try, converted by Mills.

Weak tackling allowed Jacob Rowan to waltz through for Gloucester’s third try, converted by Laidlaw, to give the hosts a commanding 24-7 interval cushion.

An early second-half penalty from Billy Burns stretched Gloucester’s lead before they powered home their advantage.

Tries from replacement prop John Afo and wing Charlie Sharples, both converted by Billy Twelvetrees, fired the Cherry and Whites into an unassailable 41-7 lead after 66 minutes.

Gloucester notched a sixth try and it probably summed up Warriors' afternoon.

A pass from Mills went to ground and Scott sprinted from inside his own 22 and brushed off a last-ditch tackle from Jamie Shillcock to touch down. Twelvetrees added the extras.

Replacement lock Tevita Cavubati crashed over from close-range to give Warriors fans something to cheer.

But prop Josh Hohneck made a dart to the line for Gloucester’s seventh touchdown to take them beyond the half-century mark with Twelvetrees kicking the conversion.

Warriors had the final word in curious circumstances, Fa’osiliva cutting through to score after appearing to drop a pass, and Mills slotted the conversion.

But it was little consolation for Warriors who have much work to do before their next Premiership outing against Saracens at Sixways on February 11.

They have just nine league games to save themselves from relegation to the Championship.