Planet Rugby

Late kick saves Gloucester

11th September 2010 16:55

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Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu try against Leeds

Try time: Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu

A late penalty from Nicky Robinson spared Gloucester's blushes on Saturday as Leeds Carnegie were edged out 22-21 at Kingsholm.

But it was a far from convincing display by them as Leeds led by two points with a minute to go only to give away a penalty that Wales international Robinson, whose kicking was inconsistent, thumped through the posts.

It was welcome relief for home head coach Bryan Redpath who said some stern words during the week after his side's shock 22-10 defeat by debutants Exeter at Sandy Park last week.

Redpath made five changes from that side, with flanker Brett Deacon, a summer signing from Leicester, starting his first match.

Meanwhile, Leeds made five changes from the side beaten 32-16 at home on the opening Sunday of the season by Bath.

One of those changes, though, was not England star Steve Thompson, who started the match on the bench for a second weekend.

Instead, ex-England hooker Andy Titterrell occupied the number two berth to play against one of his old clubs.

And that tough talking among the Gloucester camp saw them come out of the blocks firing with a vengeance in the opening 10 minutes.

In front of England team manager Martin Johnson, wing Lesley Vainikolo set up the first home try with a dash to within 10 metres of the Leeds line before handing the chance to number eight Luke Narraway.

The Cherry and Whites went even further ahead when Leeds wing Lee Blackett missed a tackle on Scotland prop Alasdair Dickinson on eight minutes after the front row forward had taken a pass from a ruck on the 22.

Dickinson sprinted past the attempted tackles and found his way to the line. And, with Robinson adding the conversions against two penalty kicks from opposite number Christian Lewis-Pratt, it seemed back to normal after their awful opening performance.

However, despite having the superiority in the pack, Gloucester lost their way as Leeds rallied.

The visitors enjoyed good possession in dangerous areas but could not convert until Lewis-Pratt grabbed a neat pass on the left wing from five metres to bypass the home cover and crash over.

His conversion would have levelled matters but he missed and, on the stroke of half-time, big home centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu delivered a third Gloucester try to put them eight points ahead.

Yet, their Achilles heel flared up again as Leeds fought to make significant inroads into the home half before the hour mark.

Twice, as at Exeter, Gloucester spurned chances, the clearest of which saw centre Mike Tindall put full-back Charlie Sharples in at the corner only for the ball to be squandered.

The Yorkshiremen pulled three more points back with Lewis-Pratt's third penalty and, after their pack thwarted another golden Cherry and Whites chance, they got back into it.

Thompson made his presence felt, while flanker Hendre Fourie was a tower of strength.

Lewis-Pratt hit the post with a 35-metre penalty but centre Luther Burrell followed up, stretched high in the air and thundered over, giving his fly-half a simple conversion and, with it, a 21-19 lead.

Gloucester threw the kitchen sink at Leeds but spurned a couple more chances to grab a fourth - and bonus point - try.

But they were rescued by Robinson's boot after the Leeds pack, trying to run the clock down, were penalised for a ruck offence to give Gloucester a one-point win.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:
Tries: Narraway, Dickinson, Fuimaono-Sapolu
Con: Robinson 2
Pen: Robinson

For Leeds Carnegie:
Tries: Lewis-Pratt, Burrell
Con: Lewis-Pratt
Pen: Lewis-Pratt 3

Gloucester: 15 Charlie Sharples, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Mike Tindall (capt), 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 Lesley Vainikolo, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Brett Deacon, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Pierre Capdevielle, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Olivier Azam, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Will James, 20 Peter Buxton, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Tim Taylor, 23 Tim Molenaar.

Leeds Carnegie: 15 Michael Stephenson, 14 Lee Blackett, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Scott Barrow, 11 Semi Tadulala, 10 Christian Lewis Pratt, 9 Scott Mathie, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Hendre Fourie, 6 Alfie Tooala, 5 Marco Wentzel (capt), 4 Tom Denton, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 Andrew Titterrell, 1 Mike MacDonald.
Replacements: 16 Steve Thompson, 17 Gareth Hardy, 18 Miguel Alonso, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Rhys Oakley, 21 Warren Fury, 22 James Tincknell, 23 Leigh Hinton.

Referee: David Rose

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