Tigers late show stuns Gloucester

Date published: September 2 2016

Leicester scored two tries in the final five minutes against Gloucester to grab a 38-31 win in their Premiership opener at Kingsholm.

Sam Harrison's last minute try was the perfect ending for the visitors, who looked down and out early in the second half at 31-7 down, but a spirited performance saw the Tigers put a dent in Gloucester's title bid.

The hosts' director of rugby David Humphreys said he wanted the opening day to be reflective of a push for the championship, but on this evidence, there is a lot of work to do.

Matt Scott, on his first game after transferring from Edinburgh in the close season, looked a gem as he scored a brace. But the day belonged to Leicester, who refused to give up and take the points back home.

Debutant Scott got his Gloucester career off to a dream start, touching down just over 10 minutes into the curtain raiser following good work from Matt Kvesic and Tom Marshall. The former Edinburgh centre received the ball five metres out, and defied his Premiership experience to open the scoring.

The celebrations did not last though, with Manu Tuilagi finishing off after receiving the ball from new boy JP Pietersen, though a raucous Kingsholm protested owing to a forward pass. Freddie Burns levelled the scores, but it didn't take long for Gloucester to restore their seven point advantage.

A loose pass just inside the Leicester half was intercepted by Charlie Sharples, who ran half the length of the pitch before touching down. Greig Laidlaw kicked the extras before extending the Cherry and Whites' lead with a penalty.

It got even better for Gloucester – and Scott in particular – once the centre got his second try of the night. It all started when Billy Twelvetrees and Ross Moriarty combined on the wing to feed Scott who made no mistake to finish off the counter attack. Laidlaw converted with ease and the hosts looked every bit as impressive as their packed-to-the-rafters Kingsholm stadium heading into half time.

The second half began in similar fashion to the first, with both sides scoring early tries.

The home team looked to have put the game out of reach of their opponents as Henry Purdy raced down the left with Laidlaw once again converting easily.

But the gap was reverted from the restart with 2007 World Cup winner Pietersen getting his first Leicester try having been fed through by Luke Hamilton.

That led to a spell of sustained pressure from the visitors with Adam Thompson's try disallowed for offside and Ksevic then being sent to the sin bin for the hosts.

It did not take long for Leicester to use their man advantage as Hamilton got the last touch amongst a barrage of bodies before Burns buried the extras. Minutes after, another Burns kick brought Leicester to within a converted try of their opponents, and after a disappointment of having another try disallowed for going into touch, they levelled the scores with just minutes to spare, Pietersen feeding in Brendon O'Connor with the try converted by Harrison.

And it was that man Harrison who completed the turnaround with the last meaningful action of the game. A kick to the corner led to a maul from the line-out, and Harrison drove forward to finish and earn the deserved victory, kicking the extras to add the gloss on a wonderful opening night win.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:
Tries: Scott 2, Sharples, Purdy
Cons: Laidlaw 4
Pen: Laidlaw

For Leicester:
Tries: Tuilagi, Pietersen, Harrison 2, O'Connor
Cons: Burns 3, Harrison 2
Pen: Burns

Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 James Hook, 23 Gareth Evans

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Luke Hamilton, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Greg Bateman, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Will Evans, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Adam Thompstone

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Ian Tempest, Peter Allan
TMO: David Grashoff