Dean Ryan paid tribute to Gloucester’s new kids on the block after his team went top of the Guinness Premiership with a thrilling 33-24 victory over Worcester at Sixways.
Gloucester’s 20-year-old stars Ryan Lamb, Anthony Allen and Jack Adams scored 28 of their team’s points to subdue a spirited Worcester performance.
Fly-half Lamb kicked four penalties and three conversions as he ran the show through some astute tactical awareness amid a fast and furious encounter.
Lamb’s example was followed by centres Allen and Adams, who both scored tries as Gloucester made it five games unbeaten in the Premiership this season.
"I thought the young backs were outstanding physically. They did not give an inch in terms of physical contact," said Gloucester head coach Ryan.
"They are all developing, and we must not lose sight of that fact, but every time they find themselves in a pressure environment they seem to revel in it."
While Lamb and company stole the show in front of a Sixways record crowd of just under 10,200, there were also encouraging comebacks from Gloucester’s England World Cup winners Iain Balshaw and Mike Tindall.
Balshaw, making his first appearance since September 3 after recovering from an ankle injury, scored Gloucester’s final try, while centre Tindall was given a first outing of the campaign as a replacement, and he responded by making some crunching trademark tackles.
Tindall, who has been troubled by a calf muscle problem, might not have enough time to force his way into the England reckoning for next month’s Tests, but he comfortably overcame the first hurdle in his quest for match sharpness.
Gloucester were made to work hard for their victory – they trailed 14-7 at one stage of the first half and had Peter Buxton and James Forrester sin-binned in quick succession – but there was no doubting their quality when the mood took them.
Ryan added: "It was a tremendous test of character for the team, but I thought they did Gloucester proud."
In contrast, Worcester were left to reflect on a fifth-successive league defeat that keeps them bottom of the Premiership pile, and they did not even have the satisfaction of a losing bonus point despite scoring tries through Shane Drahm, Dale Rasmussen and Thomas Lombard.
"We would have liked to have had a bigger lead at half-time, and we didn’t really take advantage of the double sin-binning," said Worcester rugby director John Brain.
"We have got to be more clinical and disciplined to beat teams at the top of the league. We gave away too many penalties in the second half.
"We gave Gloucester a very tough game, but that doesn’t put any more points on the league table for us.
"If we can improve from this performance, then we can beat teams at the top of the league, and the key thing now is what we do from here on."