Leicester 27 Gloucester 27: Moody spares Tigers' blushes

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The Independent Online

Leicester were not as profligate as in the previous week's defeat at Bath, but they failed to score any points in the final quarter and Gloucester nearly stole a win to add a gloss to their unbeaten start to the season. With seven first-team contenders absent injured, the visitors' effort was all the more praiseworthy.

Gloucester were the last team to win in the Premiership at Welford Road, 29 matches ago in January 2004, and they prevailed in the Powergen Cup here in December that same year. They could have nicked this one too - despite having twice trailed by 10 points - but for a scything tackle by Tigers' England flanker Lewis Moody on the substitute scrum-half Rory Lawson with seven minutes remaining.

One of the less familiar names made his mark early. Willie Walker arrived at Kingsholm from his native New Zealand by way of a couple of seasons' Japanese club rugby with the eyecatchingly named World Fighting Bull. It makes the Tigers sound prosaic, and as for the Cherry and Whites... In any case Walker realised that any points on offer needed to be taken, and dropped a goal after only two minutes.

Three penalties by Goode to one for Walker - when Luke Abraham tackled Gloucester's centre Rudi Keil in the air - had Leicester ahead 9-6 after 15 minutes. When Danny Hipkiss brushed off a couple of Gloucester's heavy mob for a try converted by Goode it looked like another straightforward afternoon on the home front, not least because of the solidity of Marcus Ayerza at loosehead prop. Tigers used to consider anyone outside Leicestershire beyond the pale, but with Ayerza recently joining two other Argentina-born front rowers in their ranks, they must be doing the tango in Market Harborough now.

Gradually, though, Gloucester worked out that with a mixture of scrum-half Peter Richards's snap behind the maul and James Forrester's prescience at getting in all the right places from No 8 - timely, that, with the England forwards coach John Wells watching - they had a sniff.

Walker popped over a second dropped goal before half-time, then - after a Goode penalty in the 43rd minute - Forrester's try punished some slack clearance work. One of the culprits, Seru Rabeni, made partial amends with a powerful try, cutting against the grain of Gloucester's defence. But Anthony Allen nipped in at the posts for Gloucester, Walker converted and, after Goode's fifth penalty, kicked one himself before limping off.

Leicester too made a change at 10, with Paul Burke on, but his effort at a dropped goal was not half as accurate as the penalty by Walker's stand-in, Brad Davies a short while earlier which secured the draw. Davies had only been recalled in midweek from a loan with Pertemps Bees. Talk about a sting in the tail.

Leicester: S Vesty; G Murphy, D Hipkiss, M Cornwell, S Rabeni (T Varndell, 58); A Goode (P Burke, 72), S Bemand; M Ayerza (M Castrogiovanni, 53), G Chuter, J White, J Hamilton, L Cullen, M Corry (capt), J Crane, L Abraham (L Moody, 7-15, 40-42, 55).

Gloucester: O Morgan; J Bailey, R Keil, A Allen, M Foster; W Walker (B Davies, 65), P Richards (R Lawson, 69); P. Collazo (N Wood, 40), O Azam (M Davies, 50), C Califano (J Forster, 78), W James (A Eustace, 40), M Bortolami (capt), P Buxton, J Forrester, A Hazell (J Boer, 69).

Referee: T Spreadbury (Somerset).