Leicester 27 Gloucester 27: Forrester displays England quality to expose dismal Leicester

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The Independent Online

There is every likelihood that Saturday's sell-out crowd at Welford Road got a glimpse of England's next No 8 - Gloucester's James Forrester.

Long after the final whistle had gone on a match in which Forrester had left aficionados purring at his all-round contribution, his coach, Dean Ryan, was spotted deep in discussion with the England forwards coach, John Wells, outside the ground.

Wells, by Forrester's admission, is now the 25-year-old back row forward's mentor, so it is safe to assume that he was the topic of the moment. Ryan had pronounced himself delighted with his man's performance.

"He has been scoring tries throughout his career," said Ryan, "but he has now added a more physical side to his game. He no longer hangs around waiting for the ball to come out to him."

No, now he goes looking for it, and for whoever is unfortunate enough to be in possession. Thanks to a summer of weight training ("I put on about a stone") Forrester is more forager these days. "At the end of last season Andy Robinson said I had done well, but that I needed to put on more weight. I pulled out of the Churchill Cup because I had a bit of a collarbone problem and took my weight up to about 17 stone, but I have not lost any speed."

That much was evident in the way he rocketed into the line and then powered over for the first of Gloucester's two tries. It is difficult to stop a runaway human truck that can cover 40 metres in 5.1sec.

There is no doubt that Forrester is England bound, but where Leicester are headed is anyone's guess after a dismal showing. At half-time they looked odds on for victory and possibly even maximum points, but they fell away alarmingly after the interval, losing shape, purpose and control. They were fortunate not to lose, but the draw was still difficult for them to accept.

There were 19 angry men in the home dressing-room, whereas the visitors' coach headed away filled with, as Forrester put it, "a half-happy team".

Leicester: Tries Hipkiss, Rabeni; Conversion Goode; Penalties Goode 5. Gloucester: Tries Forrester, Allen; Conversion Walker; Penalties Walker 2; Drop goals Walker 2.

Leicester: S Vesty; G Murphy, D Hipkiss, M Cornwell, S Rabeni (T Varndell, 59); A Goode (P Burke, 72), S Bemand; M Ayerza (M Castrogiovanni, 54), G Chuter, J White, J Hamilton, L Cullen, M Corry (capt), L Abraham (L Moody 8-16; 40-43; 56), J Crane.

Gloucester: O Morgan; J Bailey, R Keil, A Allen, M Foster; W Walker (B Davies, 66), P Richards (R Lawson, 70); P Collazo (N Wood, 40), O Azam (M Davies, 50), C Califano (J Forster, 79), W James (A Eustace, 40), M Bortolami (capt), P Buxton, A Hazell (J Boer, 70) J Forrester.

Referee: A Spreadbury (Somerset).

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