WORCESTER Warriors lost their first game back in a humbling defeat to Gloucester.

Melani Nanai’s sending off proved decisive and costly as rugby returned to Sixways after an absence of more than five months and in a surreal atmosphere.

Nanai was shown a red card after only 18 minutes for a high tackle on Jonny May which left Warriors to play more than three-quarters of the match with 14 men.

Warriors were leading 5-0 when Nanai departed thanks to a second minute try from Ted Hill in his first match as the club’s youngest-ever captain.

Warriors did well to restrict Gloucester to just a seven points lead at the break but it became increasingly difficult to contain their pacy backs in the second half although Scott van Breda managed to score a consolation try.

With social distancing regulations in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus the match was played behind closed doors although non-playing members of Warriors’ squad seated in the South Stand did their best to replicate the Sixways Roar.

They were on their feet after just two minutes after Sam Lewis put Gloucester under pressure with a strong run down the left, Warriors patiently built the pressure and Hill powered over for an unconverted try.

Billy Searle tried to extend the lead when he took a penalty from halfway but his kick fell just short of the target and Nanai, playing at full-back for the first time, gave a glimpse of his exciting talent when he ghosted through a couple of tackles and delivered a neat off-load.

But Nanai departed soon after as referee Christophe Ridley and TMO Keith Lewis studied footage of his challenge on May who failed his head injury assessment.

Billy Twelvetrees added to the punishment by kicking the resulting penalty but Warriors showed their character by winning a penalty, kicking it to the corner and launching a series of close range forward drives.

Gloucester conceded a penalty under pressure which Searle stroked over to open up a five points lead.

But Gloucester were level again within five minutes when they made their numerical advantage count by working former Warriors hooker Jack Singleton, on a season-long loan from Saracens, over for a try on his return to Sixways.

Twelvetrees missed the conversion but made no mistake with another touchline conversion after Gloucester had kicked a penalty to the opposite corner, won the lineout and given Ollie Thorley an easy run-in.

The tries came thick and fast in the second half with Thorley crossing again followed by Louis Rees-Zammit, Jason Woodward and Stephen Varney with Van Breda powering over eight minutes from time.

Warriors | 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Ashley Beck (Venter 58), 11 Scott van Breda, 10 Billy Searle (Weir 58), 9 Francois Hougaard, 1 Ethan Waller (Holsey 66), 2 Niall Annett (Cutting 55), 3 Nick Schonert (Palframan 61), 4 Anton Bresler (van Velze 55), 5 Graham Kitchener (du Preez 61), 6 Ted Hill (C), 7 Sam Lewis, 8 Matt Kvesic.

Replacements | 16 Beck Cutting, 17 Lewis Holsey, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Francois Venter.


2m | Hill try 5-0

19m | Twelvetrees pen 5-3

25m | Searle pen 8-3

30m | Singleton try 8-8

37m | Thorley try 8-13

38m | Twelvetrees con 8-15

49m | Thorley try 8-20

50m | Twelvetrees con 8-22

56m | Rees-Zammit try 8-27

62m | Woodward try 8-32

63m | Twelvetrees con 8-34

72m | Van Breda try 13-34

73m | Weir con 15-34

75m | Twelvetrees pen 15-37

78m | Varney try 15-42

79m | Twelvetrees con 15-44