The Saints’ Academies League hopes suffered a terminal blow as Worcester claimed a deserved victory at Tresham College on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors led at half-time and while Saints briefly closed the gap before the hour, it was the taking of chances thereafter that saw the Warriors home, a stern defensive effort helping to keep them in the clear.
Although the Saints often had Worcester pegged back inside their own 22, patient defence paid and turnovers, allied with the booming boot of scrum-half James Shillcock, forced the hosts back down field time and again.
The Saints struggled to find the penetration that had seen them score six tries in Leeds a week earlier, forced to wait until the 54th minute for a first score when James Grayson charged down a kick and gathered the bouncing ball over the line.
By that point, the Warriors had already opened up an 11-point lead, their forwards crashing over a well worked rolling maul.
Any hopes of a Saints comeback were dashed when lock Jasper Dix was perceived to have dragged down another Worcester drive, and was subsequently shown yellow.
Worcester soon made the most of their man advantage, rumbling over the whitewash once again, and the young Saints’ job was made even harder when full back Burgess was shown yellow for killing the ball at the maul.
The resulting penalty try took the visitors 26-7 clear before a frantic final five minutes.
Worcester went down to 13 men after two yellow cards in the space of 30 seconds, but although Saints got one try back, time was not on their side and the Warriors comfortably held out.
The loss means that Gloucester are ensured of top spot in the Northern Conference heading for Finals Day, but there is still plenty to play for with clashes against Sale and the Cherry and Whites to come.
The top four from the north and south meet at Allianz Park in February, meaning second place and a potential third-fourth place playoff remain in their own hands.
6mins WORCS Try Hill 0-5
HALF-TIME SAINTS 0 WORCS 5
51mins WORCS Pen Shillcock 0-8
53mins WORCS Pen Shillcock 0-11
54mins SAINTS Try and Con Grayson 7-11
57mins WORCS Pen Shillcock 7-14
59mins SAINTS Yellow Dix
60mins WORCS Try Cutting 7-19
64mins WORCS Try Penalty Con Shillcock 7-26
64mins SAINTS Yellow Burgess
68mins WORCS Yellow Tawfik
69mins SAINTS Try Penalty Con Grayson 14-26
69mins WORCS Yellow Davies-Moore
FULL-TIME SAINTS 14 WORCS 26