Leeds 24 Gloucester 49: Vainikolo destroys Leeds

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The Independent Online

Lesley Vainikolo, the Tongan winger who scored 149 tries in 152 games for Bradford Bulls, scored five tries on his Guinness Premiership debut for Gloucester.

Stuart Lancaster, the director of rugby at Leeds, said: "I've seen Vainikolo do it in world-class performances. Despite this there were positives for us, but Gloucester were clinical."

Three minutes into the game, Gloucester attacked down the left. Vainikolo was stopped but the ball came back across for James Simpson-Daniel to score in the right corner. Ryan Lamb failed with the attempt on goal. In reply, Leeds launched Jon Dunbar up the left, the flanker stepping out of three tackles for a stunning try which Alberto Di Bernardo converted before adding a penalty.

When Di Bernardo then booted the ball into the Gloucester in-goal area Lamb had the ball covered, but he dropped it. From the scrum a penalty was awarded for Di Bernardo to make it 13-5. Back came Gloucester with a try by the former Leeds full-back Iain Balshaw, though again Lamb failed with the conversion. He then kicked a penalty to tie the scores.

Di Bernardo added another penalty but then left the field with a suspected fractured hand. James Brooks was his replacement, though not until Vainikolo had barged across for his first try. Lamb again failed with the conversion, and on the half-time whistle Brooks kicked a penalty to make it 19-18 to Leeds.

Gloucester began the second half as they started the first, Anthony Allen cutting through for a smashing try. This time Lamb converted. Leeds fought back and with a remarkable turn of foot Tom Rock raced over for the second home try, which Brooks failed to convert.

Rock's delight was very soon tempered by Vainikolo, however, who ran through him for his next try before adding three more. What a debut.

Leeds: Tries Dunbar, Rock; Conversions Di Bernardo. Penalties Di Bernardo 3, Brooks. Gloucester: Tries Simpson-Daniel, Balshaw, Vainikolo 5, Allen; Conversions R Lamb 3; Penalties Lamb.

Leeds: J Goodridge (L Hinton, 61); T Rock, J Hepworth (J Holtby, 70), R Welding, T Biggs; A Di Bernardo (J Brooks, 36), J Bedford; M Cusack, R Rawlinson (J Parkes, 68), C Noon (A Hopcroft, 44), S Hooper (capt), K Myall, J Dunbar (P Bouza, 57), H Fourie (M Rock, 23), R Oakley.

Gloucester: I Balshaw; J Simpson-Daniel, L Lloyd, A Allen, L Vainikolo; R Lamb, M Prendergast; P Callazo, O Azam (A Titterrell, 50), C Nieto (C Califano, 74), J Pendlebury (A Strokosch, 57), A Brown, P Buxton (capt), A Hazell, L Narraway.

Referee: D Rose (Birmingham).