These past few weeks have been on the torrid side of uncomfortable for Leicester. Twice they have lost at their fortress, Welford Road, the Heineken Cup is on its way back to France and all chances of a play-off place evaporated with last week's home loss to London Irish.
"House full" notices were posted well in advance of yesterday at Kingsholm for a match which had, for Leicester, apart from pride and becoming the first side to win here since September 2001, the possibility of qualifying for the Zurich Wild Card competition for a place in next season's European line-up.
As for Gloucester, never mind that they could not be dislodged from their eyrie at the table's top: they're sick to their boots of Leicester winning everything in sight.
As if to make the point, Gloucester began with a bang, scoring one of the season's finest tries. Andy Gomarsall started it from inside the home half and Andy Deacon spun out an outrageously long pass to Trevor Woodman, who linked with Ludovic Mercier, who put Thinus Delport across with a flourish.
The pace slackened a tad after an action-packed start but Mercier, who converted the try, added a monster penalty from all of 60 metres as Leicester struggled for territory and possession.
Eventually the Tigers forwards set up two rolling mauls, undermining the Gloucester pack's growing authority and, from one fierce drive, Jamie Hamilton popped a short pass to Freddie Tuilagi for a try at the posts. Geordan Murphy's conversion and a penalty by the Irishman should have ensured that Leicester would turn round on level terms. But in the final play of the half Tom Beim crossed in the corner for Mercier to succeed with a peach of a conversion.
Those scores proved decisive. Apart from a solitary penalty by Murphy, Leicester went missing after the break as Gloucester played it fast and loose, getting their runners into open spaces where the Tigers were vulnerable.
For most of a memorable second half, the Tigers' defence just about held, but Gloucester were undaunted. First they matched Leicester for the 50-50 ball, then they revealed their sharpest finishing for Gomarsall and Terry Fanolua to score tries, earning Gloucester another bonus point to go with their bonus-filled season.
Gloucester: T Delport; M Garvey, T Fanolua, H Paul (R Todd, 76), T Beim; L Mercier, A Gomarsall; T Woodman, O Azam, A Deacon (P Vickery, 51), A Eustace (R Fidler, 72), M Cornwell, J Boer (capt), A Hazell (P Buxton, 76), J Paramore.
Leicester: G Murphy; J Holtby, L Lloyd, F Tuilagi, H Ellis; C McMullen, J Hamilton (T Tierney, 65); G Rowntree, G Chuter, D Garforth (R Nebbett, 73), M Johnson (capt), B Kay, P Short, J Kronfeld (W Skinner 76), A Balding (Skinner, 60-72).
Referee: R Maybank (Orpington).
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