Warriors missed the opportunity to win at Kingsholm for the first time since 2009 in what turned into an attritional arm wrestle.
A try after just 41 seconds – Warriors’ fastest-ever in the Premiership – from Nick David and a penalty try early in the second half should have laid the foundations for victory. Instead a 14-5 lead was eroded by two converted tries in a decisive three minute period midway through the second half.
Both stemmed from Warriors errors in their own half and came when Gloucester were down to 14 men with prop Fraser Balmain in the sin bin.
Gloucester were again a man down for ten minutes when flanker Jordy Reid was sin-binned but they also scored the only points during that period when replacement George Barton slotted a penalty.
That kick effectively sealed the win although Warriors’ claims for a late penalty try, when Gloucester wing Santiago Carreras was sin binned for a deliberate knock-on of David’s pass when Jamie Shillcock looked certain to score were over-ruled.
Referee Luke Pearce decided that the offence happened too far out for him to award another penalty try. Warriors had to settle for a penalty which Shillcock narrowly failed to land as his kick smacked against the right post and bounced out.
Warriors were forced into a late reshuffle when skipper Ted Hill failed a fitness test on a stiff back and so Joe Batley was brought into the back-row with Matt Kvesic talking over the captaincy.
Despite that disruption Warriors still made the perfect start after they had put Gloucester under pressure from Jamie Shillcock’s kick-off.
Chris Pennell collected Gloucester’s clearance kick near halfway, got his pass away in the tackle and David picked his way through a thicket of tacklers for a brilliant individual try with just 41 seconds on the clock. David’s try was six seconds faster than Shane Drahm’s previous club Premiership record, also against Gloucester, in October 2006.
Shillcock added the extras and then put Gloucester under further pressure with some intelligent tactical kicking.
But Warriors could not turn further first half pressure into more points and a high penalty count in the 15 minutes before half-time allowed Gloucester to claw their way back into the game.
Ethan Waller put in a crucial tackle which denied Gloucester a try but further penalties were conceded and from a kick to the corner Gloucester’s pack rumbled forward and Billy Twelvetrees crashed over.
Twelvetrees missed what should have been an easy conversion although Warriors put the fly-half under pressure by almost charging down the kick.
Warriors extended the lead three minutes into the second half with a penalty try awarded after Gloucester illegally collapsed a driving maul.
Gloucester went down to 14 men for the first time when Balmain was yellow carded but they kept an eight-man pack as they sacrificed centre Henry Trinder at the next scrum.
Warriors were unable to capitalise on that numerical advantage as Gloucester reduced the lead when lock Matias Alemanno drove over from close range and Twelvetrees, who also missed a kickable penalty, converted.
Things unravelled further when, almost from the re-start, the ball went loose from a mix-up in the midfield and allowed centre Tom Seabrook to hack through and follow up to score a try which Twelvetrees converted.
Barton’s 74th minute penalty came after a period of pressure from Warriors that went unrewarded.
There was time for Warriors to give a debut to rookie Fin Smith who became only the second 18-year-old after Graham Kitchener to play for the club in the Premiership.
Warriors | 15 Chris Pennell (Smith 76), 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Francois Venter (Beck 59), 11 Nick David, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Francois Hougaard (Heaney 59), 1 Ethan Waller (Thomas 55), 2 Niall Annett (Miller 54), 3 Nick Schonert (Palframan 55), 4 Andrew Kitchener, 5 Justin Clegg (Merrick 59), 6 Joe Batley (Dodd 75), 7 Matt Kvesic (C), 8 GJ van Velze.
Replacements | 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 George Merrick, 20 Tom Dodd, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Ashley Beck.
45 secs | David try 0-5
1m | Shillcock con 0-7
35m | Twelvetrees 5-7
43m | Penalty try 5-14
52m | Alemanno try 10-14
53m | Twelvetrees con 12-14
54m | Seabrook try 17-14
55m | Twelvetrees con 19-14
74m | Barton pen 22-14