Kay cries foul over Boer line-out 'dive'

Leicester 13 - Gloucester 20
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Ben Kay, standing in as captain for Martin Johnson, suggested after this rare and bitter defeat that Leicester had been conned out of the Powergen Cup by an unthinkable act from Jake Boer - the rugby equivalent of a player taking a dive.

Ben Kay, standing in as captain for Martin Johnson, suggested after this rare and bitter defeat that Leicester had been conned out of the Powergen Cup by an unthinkable act from Jake Boer - the rugby equivalent of a player taking a dive.

The Tigers were leading 10-6 when Boer, the Gloucester captain, came flying out of a line-out as if he'd been shot by an elephant gun. "There might have been an initial contact but everyone was agreed that Jake milked it,'' Kay said.

In that case Leicester - remember Neil Back's "hand of God'' against Munster in the 2002 Heineken Cup final - were hoist by their own petard. "If I'd been a Gloucester player I'd have patted Jake on the back and said 'well done','' Kay added.

Boer's exit from the line-out was the trigger for a period of intense pressure from Gloucester, during which they scored 14 points and benefited from a couple of controversial decisions. Winning a stream of penalties and opting for the line-out and rolling maul route, the Cherry and Whites, who had been heavily penalised during a dire first half which was illuminated only by Tom Varndell's try, suddenly found themselves in Ashley Rowden's good books.

The referee sent Brett Deacon, the Tigers' flanker, to the sin-bin for "lifting a player's legs'', a ruling which left Kay amused and the crowd incensed. And that was just the beginning.

What happened next was unprecedented at Welford Road as Rowden, displaying courage above and beyond the call of duty, awarded Gloucester a penalty try after another forward drive crashed over the Leicester line. A couple of minutes later Brad Davies, the Gloucester stand-off, hoisted a kick which carried no menace until Roger Warren, who had just replaced Ross Broadfoot, completely misjudged it.

Warren missed the catch and the bouncing ball was then knocked on by Alex Brown, the Gloucester lock, an infringement which escaped the referee's attention. In the ensuing chaos Henry Paul was able to send his unmarked fellow centre Nathan Mauger over for a try and 14-man Leicester saw a lead of 10-6 transformed into a 20-10 deficit and their interest in the national cup was effectively over.

"There are a lot of pissed off people in our changing room,'' Kay said, and he was one of them. The Powergen Cup is the only thing he hasn't won.

There was mulled wine and mince pies at half-time and that was the beginning and the end of any festive cheer. Both clubs sounded as if they were heading for Christmas in the workhouse. If Leicester were as sick as a parrot, Gloucester were not exactly over the moon.

"The first half was the worst I've seen this season and probably the season before that and the season before that,'' Nigel Melville, the Gloucester coach, said. ''It was a poor game all round. The dressing room is a subdued place, It doesn't feel like we've won at Leicester.''

He doth complain too much. Any win at Welford Road, even against a Tigers side without a host of internationals, is priceless. Today Gloucester go into the quarter-final draw and their incentive is a red letter day at Twickenham and a place in next season's Heineken Cup. Leicester, following two heavy duty victories over Wasps in the Heineken, are left to concentrate on the gold-standard double of the European and Premiership titles.

While some of the younger players failed to take their opportunity in difficult conditions on Saturday, notably Broadfoot and Sam Vesty, the Tigers know they have a potential match-winner in the 19-year-old wing Varndell and a replacement for Johnson in the 22-year-old, 6ft 8in James Hamilton. You can't have everything but Leicester - and this is to their credit - find that an alien concept.

Leicester: Try Varndell; Conversion Broadfoot; Penalties: Broadfoot, Vesty. Gloucester: Tries Penalty try, Mauger; Conversions Paul 2; Penalties Paul 2.

Leicester: S Vesty; A Tuilagi (D Hipkiss, 82), L Lloyd, O Smith, T Varndell; R Broadfoot (R Warren, 58), S Bemand; M Holford, G Chuter (E Taukafa, 75), D Morris, J Hamilton, B Kay (capt), B Deacon, W Johnson, L Moody.

Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, N Mauger, H Paul, S Kiole; B Davies, A Gomarsall; C Bezuidenhout, M Davies, G Powell, A Eustace (P Buxton, 49), A Brown, J Boer (capt), A Balding, A Hazell (J Forrester, 63).

Referee: A Rowden (Berkshire).

¿ The Wales No 8 Ryan Jones could miss the Six Nations' opener against England after being sent off in the Neath-Swansea Ospreys' 13-9 defeat at Munster. Jones faces a ban of up to 12 weeks for rucking Donncha O'Callaghan's head during theCeltic League game on Saturday.