Six penalties from fly-half Freddie Burns helped Leicester to see off Gloucester 18-15 in their Premiership clash at Welford Road on Friday.
The game was an on-running tale of kicker against kicker. Burns fired through a 100 percent record of six kicks against his former employers, whilst James Hook struck 15 points to keep his side within touching distance.
However, a late kick from the Gloucester man fell short, and with Charlie Sharples sin binned for the late stages, Leicester were able to secure the win that saw them return to the top four in the Premiership.
On a gloomy night in the East Midlands, the first half was very much one for the number 10's, with few try-scoring opportunities of note. Burns began the kick-fest early on with a successful penalty, but Hook fired back after a Tigers foul at the maul.
This was more a half of Burns against Hook, as both kickers scored a 100 percent rate from their penalties in a straight shoot out. Burns put Tigers three points up again before a perfectly weighted kick from 45 metres saw Hook secure three more points.
Gloucester were arguably the better side in the half, and went close to opening the try scoring on two occasions. 21 minutes in the Cherry and Whites found themselves metres from the try-line after Bill Meakes broke well, but despite winning a penalty, the Tigers were strong in defence to deny Gloucester and win the ball themselves.
Hook kicked his ninth points of the night minutes later, and then his side broke again as Henry Purdy raced for the line, passing to Mark Atkinson who dived over the line. However, his pass was slightly forward and referee JP Doyle picked up on that superbly to bring play back. Doyle was back under the spotlight after a foul by John Afoa drew the ire of the crowd, but he kept his cards in his pocket, with replays suggesting that was the correct decision.
It took Tigers 32 minutes to venture into the opposition's 22, and when they did they were presented with a penalty in front of the posts that Burns had no trouble in dispatching through the posts to level the score before the break.
On the brink of half-time, Leicester looked certain to take the lead as they went through 15 phases in front of the line, but despite some big pushes, Gloucester turned over and the sides went in level.
In the early stages of the second half, Burns grabbed his fourth kick of the night. The Leicester 10 was presented with another opportunity on 47 minutes, and it looked like a rare miss was coming as his strike hit the left hand post, but such was the night he was having, the ball sailed over the post. Burns grinned to himself as he watched, the Leicester man clearly enjoying his prosperous night.
Hook was called upon again to reduce the deficit to three, but he wasn't aided by his side, who conceded their twelfth penalty of the night 15 minutes after the break, giving Tigers the chance to drive forward from a line-out.
Gloucester held the hosts off, but conceded a knock on giving Leicester the chance to keep the pressure on. Gloucester managed to relieve the pressure, but the half was definitely being controlled by the Midlands outfit.
The kicking talents of Hook continued to amaze, as he unleashed another mammoth penalty through the posts, drawing the applause of almost all in attendance as he dragged Gloucester back level. But Doyle awarded a yellow card to Sharples as he didn't leave a break down, leaving the visitors a man short for almost all of the final stages. Needless to say, Burns kicked through and Leicester had their lead back.
But when Hook was presented with another chance, albeit from his own half, the scoreboard stood on edge waiting to tick over once again. But the Gloucester man saw his effort fall short, and with five minutes to go Tigers began to wind down in an attempt to secure victory.
Gloucester lost their own line-out as it sailed over arms, and Jack Roberts dragged his side towards the line as the game threatened its first try of the night. Sam Harrison took Tigers even closer as he turned round the Gloucester defence, but Leicester conceded a penalty as Sharples returned, his side getting some late possession to coincide with his reintroduction.
But Tigers managed to win a penalty and that was enough to seal the victory as they got revenge for the 33-16 back in Round 5. Gloucester secured the losing bonus point.
Pen: Burns 6
Pen: Hook 5
Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 George Catchpole, 12 Seremaia Bai, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Jordan Crane (c), 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Sebastian de Chaves, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Laurence Pearce, 21 David Mele, 22 Jack Roberts, 23 Miles Benjamin.
Gloucester: 15 Billy Burns, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mark Atkinson, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 James Hook, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 James Hudson, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Steph Reynolds, 23 Henry Trinder.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe, Paul Burton
TMO: Rowan Kitt