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Tigers made to fight for victory

Champions Leicester stole a late victory at home to struggling Gloucester as the Tigers stayed in touch with the Aviva Premiership's top four.

Gloucester looked on course for their first win at Welford Road since 2007 when they led 8-3 with just 11 minutes left of a poor game thanks to a try by winger Charlie Sharples and a Rob Cook penalty.

But the Tigers, who started the day four points behind fourth placed Harlequins, got out of jail with a 69th minute try by full-back Mathew Tait and a Toby Flood penalty two minutes from time to squeak an 11-8 triumph.

Both sides were determined to address failings before this vital match. Gloucester knew they had to improve a poor disciplinary record - one red and 11 yellows - while Leicester had to step up their game after a one-point win at Worcester last weekend, which led to harsh words at Monday's team meeting.

All the England players were absent except Leicester hooker Tom Youngs, who had been released to get some game time.

Gloucester managed to keep all 15 players on the pitch in the first half but Leicester struggled to find a top gear and the result was a poor first 40 minutes which ended with the sides level at 3-3.

Gloucester's backs looked threatening at times but the visitors never established a decent platform to play from because their pack was always on the back foot against Leicester in the scrums.

Neither side created much and, when they did, they failed to take advantage due to the errors that littered the half.

Gloucester's backs carved out a wonderful opportunity in the fifth minute which flanker Sione Kalamafoni finished off in the left corner only to see the try chalked off for a forward pass.

Winger Martyn Thomas created another chance with a thrilling run down the left wing but, when tackled by Vereniki Goneva, his inside pass went to ground and Sharples failed to gather the ball.

Leicester fly-half Flood pushed a relatively easy 38-metre penalty wide of the right posts before two tries went begging as, first, prop Logovi'I Mulipola and then centre Matt Smith ignored overlaps.

Gloucester prop Sila Puafisi's crunching tackle on Tigers centre Anthony Allen was referred to the TV match official by the referee and deemed okay before Flood finally broke the deadlock in the 31st minute with a penalty after Leicester had destroyed the Gloucester pack at a scrum.

Gloucester full-back Cook was short with a penalty attempt in the 35th minute but made amends two minutes later with an easier one from 39 metres.

Gloucester's backs started he the second half like they did the first and this time they got some reward with a fine 51st minute try for Sharples after good work by Henry Trinder and Martyn Thomas who provided the scoring pass. Cook slipped while taking the conversion and missed.

And they almost scored another minutes later when fly-half Ryan Mills put Kalamafoni free on a surging run into the Tigers' 22 but replacement Rupert Harden lost the ball in the tackle near the line.

Leicester replacement Thomas Waldrom charged down a kick in the Gloucester half but Sharples reacted quickest, picking up the loose ball and going on a mazy counter attack which came to nothing when his pass went to ground.

Leicester finally answered the encouraging cheers of the 22,000 crowd with a 69th-minute try by Tait after a line-out near the Gloucester line. He was put through a hole by Flood who then missed an easy conversion.

They attacked again from deep but Goneva failed to get his pass away quick enough and the chance went begging, but with two minutes left Gloucester's Achilles' heel cost them the game when they collapsed a scrum in front of their posts and Flood kicked the penalty.


From Belfast Telegraph