Richards' yellow peril

Gloucester 14 Leicester 24
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The Independent Online
A PRETTY humdrum match by front-page standards. The only Carling was in bottles behind the bar, and the main preoccupation of the stripe- tied rat-pack in the front row of the stand at Kingsholm was whether Gloucester's union with the Bath scrum-half, Richard Hill, who had become their director of coaching during the week, had yet been blessed with issue. Gissa chance, as he might have said. But the short answer is yes, if only to the extent that the boys seemed clearly determined to impress their new teacher with their commitment.

That commitment lasted, but the technique ran out. In the first half, which Gloucester shared 6-6, they were underpaid for their efforts. But after the interval they were rolled over as Leicester who, unlike Gloucester, knew how to give and take a pass won by two tries to one, the second converted, and four penalties to three.

They had steadied themselves after last weekend's defeat by Bath, though they cannot have been happy to pick up two yellow cards. The first went to Neil Back for a blow reported by a touch-judge and the second to Dean Richards for his role in a brawl involving most of the scrum. The latter is potentially the more serious since it is Richards' second in consecutive matches. He now goes before a disciplinary panel who may feel that, as Leicester's captain, he is even more culpable.

Gloucester, with just one league win in four matches, have just as much to worry about, though they dominated the early stages. But Martin Kimber had only two penalties to show for all their possession after missing two drop-goal attempts in the opening three minutes.

In the second half, with the slope, Leicester showed Gloucester what a more controlled game could achieve. Within four minutes Back had scored from a line-out in the corner. And with Liley adding two more penalties, they opened up an 11-point gap.

The fight which brought Richards' downfall ended any sense of comfort. Kimber kicked the resultant penalty for Gloucester and only two minutes later the Gloucester right-wing, Paul Holford, intercepted a sloppy pass by Matt Poole and ran the length of the field for a try.

The suspense was lifted when Wayne Kilford, on the Leicester left wing, stepped out of two weary Gloucester tackles to settle the match.

Gloucester: T Smith; P Holford, D Caskie, M Roberts, L Osborne; M Kimber, B Fenley; A Powles, J Hawker, A Deacon, D Sims (capt), R West, P Glanville, I Smith, C Raymond.

Leicester: J Liley; S Hackney, S Potter, R Robinson, W Kilford; N Malone, J Hamilton; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, M Johnson, M Poole, J Wells, N Back, D Richards (capt).

Referee: B Campsall (Yorkshire).