Leicester 17 Gloucester 30: Lloyd returns to haunt Leicester as international absences bite

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Leicester team and crowd celebrated England's stunning quarter-final win over Australia with everyone else, but it rapidly dawned on them that the success had deprived them of five key players for a further two weeks at least.

And the Tigers need the likes of Martin Corry, George Chuter, Ben Kay, Lewis Moody and Dan Hipkiss judging by this showing. The defeat was only their second at home in the League in the last three and a half years and Gloucester's second victory at Welford Road in 17 seasons.

The pair had come together for this fixture on Saturday as the two remaining unbeaten teams in the Premiership. But from the fourth minute when Gloucester opened their account, there was little doubt as to which of them would retain that record.

There were no apologies from Gloucester's Leon Lloyd, who intercepted an Andy Goode pass meant for Tom Varndell for the first of the visitors' three tries.

The touchdown seemed to leave Tigers in shock for much of the rest of the match. The former Tiger Lloyd said: "It was the best pass I have had off Andy Goode in 12 years. But it was a gamble because if I had not caught it, it was a certain try for Tom Varndell at the other end. The crowd applauded politely. I thought that I had better not make too much of it otherwise I might get lynched."

Leicester dominated the line-out, one area that requires much homework from Gloucester, but elsewhere they were out-muscled and out-thought.

Despite fielding a lively and competitive back row, that included an anorexic version of France's Sébastien Chabal (or that is how it appeared), in the shape of the bearded, long-haired muscular frame of Luke Abraham, there was a lack of cohesion and aggression to the Tigers' play.

Gloucester's chief disappointment was that, having created so much, they should have left the Midlands without a try-scoring bonus point.

Leicester: Tries Croft, Cornwell; Conversions Burke 2; Penalty Goode. Gloucester: Tries Lloyd, Pen Try, Walker; Conversions Walker 3; Penalties Walker 3.

Leicester: G Murphy; J Murphy, O Smith (A Erinle, 60), M Cornwell, T Varndell; A Goode (P Burke, h-t), F Murphy (B Youngs, 72); A Moreno (M Castrogiovanni, h-t), B Kayser (M Davies, 66), J White, L Deacon (capt), M Wentzel, B Deacon (T Croft, 63), L Abraham, J Crane.

Gloucester: O Morgan; L Lloyd, M Tindall, A Allen (M Foster, 66), J Bailey; W Walker, M Prendergast (G Cooper, 54); P Collazo (N Wood, 60), O Azam (A Titterrell, 79), C Nieto (C Califano, 80+4), P Buxton (capt), A Brown, A Strokosch, A Hazell (W James, 34), L Narraway.

Referee: R Maybank (London).