Gloucester 34 Leicester 16: Leicester lose control as Gloucester tame Tigers at Kingsholm
With the business end of the season almost in sight, this was a big game for Gloucester and Leicester, and it is no error of omission, more crass fixture-making that it had to be staged on a Six Nations' weekend, when so many of their most influential players are on international duty, though it had little effect on the passion of the play or the quality of the entertainment.
Although Leicester appeared to be hardest hit by international calls, Gloucester were unfazed at having to field so many inexperienced players to win a tumultuous match, which crackled and fizzed from first to last and lifts them above Leicester to third.
Brimming with confidence after an unbeaten January, the Tigers' pack soon hit their straps. But, having weathered the early storm, Gloucester scored a real gem of a try. Ian Humphreys and Ludovic Mercier had exchanged penalties, before Jon Goodridge set Kingsholm alight with a blazing 70-metre run. When the full-back was eventually halted in a gang tackle, he offloaded for James Bailey to complete the move. Mercier converted and kicked a second penalty, as did Humphreys to make it 13-6 at the break. From there Gloucester never looked back.
With Leicester shipping penalties by the bucketful and the occupants of The Shed chanting: "Same old Leicester, always cheating", Ollie Smith was yellow carded, Mercier kicked three more penalties and the conversion of a penalty try. Will Johnson scored a consolation try while Patrice Collazo was in the sin-bin, and Ephraim Taukafa also touched down. In a rousing finish Mark Foster crossed in the corner to complete the rout. Leicester were hurting all over. In last night's other match Leeds beat Bristol 26-16.
Gloucester: Tries Bailey, penalty, Foster; Conversions Mercier 2; Penalties Mercier 5; Leicester: Tries Johnson, Taukafa; Penalties Humphreys 2.
Gloucester: Goodridge, Bailey, Fanolua, Keil, Foster, Mercier, Amor, Collazo, Elloway, Powell, Pendlebury, Brown, Boer, Merriman, Forrester. Replacements: Parkes, Wood, Eustace, Balding, Buxton, M Davies, Thirlby.
Leicester: Vesty, H Tuilagi, Lloyd, Smith, Varndell, Humphreys, Healey, Rowntree, Buckland, Morris, L Deacon, Kay, B Deacon, Abraham, Johnson. Replacements: Taukafa, Holford, Hamilton, Skinner, Bemand, Broadfoot, Dodge.
Referee: W Barnes (England)
* The Leicester head coach Pat Howard has shelved plans to return home at the end of this season and signed a new contract with the Tigers. The former Australia international had been expected to return home to work in the family pharmacy business. Howard and his forwards coach, Richard Cockerill, have both agreed new contracts "for at least one further season".
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