Leicester Tigers came away from Kingsholm with a famous 20-13 win on Saturday, but Gloucester managed to clinch a bonus-point that keeps them top of the Premiership table.
Leicester Tigers came away from Kingsholm with a famous 20-13 win on Saturday, but Gloucester managed to clinch a bonus-point that keeps them top of the Guinness Premiership table – just one point clear of their victors.
The result brought Gloucester's 22-game unbeaten home record to a halt in what was a fiercely contested encounter.
Both sides were missing a crop of senior players through injury and Six Nations call-ups but, while Leicester have spent years establishing a squad to cope with this time of year, Gloucester are still catching up.
Gloucester were the most affected by missing players, leaving them to field several fringe players for their most important league game of the season. And Leicester were quick to target Gloucester, Andy Goode hanging several high kicks for James Bailey to deal with.
The hosts tried to dominate up front but were unable to eradicate the basic errors from their game, allowing Leicester to stay in the hunt, despite their own line out failing to produce quality ball.
With the game still scoreless approaching half-time Leicester seized the initiative with a powerful drive. The ball was moved wide to Tom Varndell who drew the last defender and sent Ollie SMith over in the corner, Goode adding the extras.
Tempers began to flair as the half drew to a close and eventually Tony Spreadbury lost his patience, binning Gloucester's Will James and Leicester's Ben Herring in quick succession as the shed began to voice their opinions.
Willie Walker slotted the resulting penalty from Herring's yellow card sending the hosts into half time just four points behind.
With James back on and Gloucester holding a one-man advantage they took the lead shortly after the break. Peter Buxton claimed good line out ball before the drive for the line came on and eventually Olivier Azam burrowed over, Walker adding the extras.
Shortly after Walker missed a chance to extend the lead, sending his long range penalty effort wide. He was made to pay for his miss as moments later Goode levelled the score with a penalty of his own. The two then traded further penalties before Leicester secured the win.
All Black Aaron Mauger cut the Gloucester defence to pieces before releasing Ayoola Erinle to go storming over. Goode duly added the extras and with ten minutes to go Leicester were in the box seat.
The hosts had a golden chance to hit back, only to see James Simpson-Daniel held up over the line by a spirited effort from Christophe Laussucq. Still Gloucester pushed to level things and spent the last five minutes attacking fourteen men.
Ben Herring was sent off for his second yellow card, the second for not being back ten from a Gareth Cooper tapped penalty. Try as they may Gloucester could not breach the Tigers line and had to settle for a losing bonus-point which keeps them top of the league.
Pens: Walker 2
For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Smith, Erinle
Cons: Goode 2
Pens: Goode 2
Yellow Cards: Will James (Gloucester – stamping), Ben Herring (Leicester – killing the ball; not back ten)
Red Card: Ben Herring (Leicester – two yellow cards)
Gloucester: 15 James Bailey, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Jack Adams, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Mark Foster, 10 Willie Walker, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Adam Balding, 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Will James, 4 Peter Buxton (c), 3 Jack Forster, 2 Olivier Azam, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Jeremy Paul, 17 Andy Titterrell, 18 Alasdair Dickinson, 19 Jonathan Pendlebury, 20 Gareth Cooper, 21 Ali James, 22 Charlie Sharples.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Johne Murphy, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Ayoola Erinle, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Ollie Smith, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Christophe Lausucqq, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Ben Herring, 6 Martin Corry (c), 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Tom Croft, 3 Alex Moreno, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Dave Young, 18 Gregor Gillanders, 19 Brett Deacon, 20 Frank Murphy, 21 Ian Humphreys, 22 Sam Vesty.
Referee: Tony Spreadbury
Touch judges: Stuart Terheege, Paul Emerson
Television match official: Matt Peters