Gloucester scored a magnificent seven tries as they hammered Worcester 55-19 at Kingsholm in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday.
Worcester, just two points below bottom club Bristol before kick-off, suffered a ninth league loss of the campaign after Gloucester posted tries by wing Jonny May, his fellow England international Charlie Sharples, Scotland centre Matt Scott, who touched down twice, flanker Jacob Rowan, plus props John Afoa and Josh Hohneck. Skipper Greig Laidlaw kicked three conversions and a penalty before going off, while fly-half Billy Burns, who was injured early in the second period, added a penalty and centre Billy Twelvetrees booted four conversions in Gloucester's 55-19 romp.
Worcester were never in the game, with wing Cooper Vuna's solo try - converted by Ryan Mills - and consolation scores from Tevita Cavubati and Alafoti Faosiliva being their only highlights, plus another Mills conversion, they regularly fell off tackles and looked like a team set for a four-month fight to stay in English rugby's top flight.
Gloucester were forced into a late change when flu victim James Hook withdrew, so Tom Marshall deputised, while other switches following last weekend's narrow defeat against Northampton included returns for Laidlaw, Scott and flanker Ross Moriarty among those returning. Worcester, whose solitary victory in a competitive fixture at Kingsholm came almost eight years ago, called up Wynand Olivier as replacement for ankle injury victim Ben Te'o in midfield, and Phil Dowson captained the side from number eight.
Laidlaw opened Gloucester's account through a third-minute penalty, and it proved a cue for sustained pressure inside Worcester's 22, with the Warriors unable to clear possession. And after a number of tackles close to the line kept Gloucester out, the home side finally broke through when Marshall cut back inside on an angle and May touched down for a try that Laidlaw converted.
May then turned provider five minutes later, this time breaking free just inside the touchline before delivering an eay scoring pass to Scott, who sprinted over unopposed. Laidlaw's conversion made it 17-0, and Gloucester were almost out of sight.
Worcester briefly rallied, initially wasting a glorious chance following lock Darren Barry's break, but then cutting the deficit when Vuna showcased his elusiveness by slicing open Gloucester's defence. Mills conversion made it 17-7, but Gloucester immediately responded as Rowan cashed in on terrible Worcester tackling to claim try number three before Laidlaw's conversion re-established a comfortable advantage.
Laidlaw went off just before half-time - there was no obvious sign of any injury - with Ben Vellacott replacing him as Gloucester comfortably closed out the half. Scotland captain Laidlaw did not reappear for the second period, but Gloucester were soon back into their stride as a Burns penalty took them 20 points clear.
The injury curse of Gloucester goalkickers then struck Burns, who departed after 57 minutes, before Gloucester secured a five-point maximum when lock Jeremy Thrush charged down the touchline and gave an inside pass to Afoa, who finished with a 10-metre surge while Thrush celebrated his assist.
Twelvetrees converted, and also added the extras to Sharples' touchdown as the England international made easy work of more sloppy Worcester defending. And before Worcester could recover from that setback, Gloucester struck again, this time when Scott broke clear from inside his own half and showed enough acceleration to leave Warriors' defenders floundering, before Twelvetrees' conversion brought 50 points within sight.
Worcester then gained a consolation try from replacement forward Cavubati, before the scoring spree finished through Hohneck's close-range effort for Gloucester and a Faosiliva score that had more than a hint of a forward pass about it.