Having battled so hard at Welford Road, Gloucester Rugby were denied at the death as a last-minute Tom Hardwick penalty saw the Leicester Tigers sneak a narrow 16-13 Gallagher Premiership victory on Saturday afternoon.
The long wait for a victory at Welford Road goes on as the Cherry and Whites overcame an indifferent start to take a second-half lead courtesy of Joe Simpson’s superb try, only for the Tigers to eventually grind their way to victory with two late penalties.
It was a brave effort from Gloucester Rugby, who fought back after skipper Ed Slater was yellow carded in the second minute and then unable to return due to an ankle injury. Noel Reid opened the scoring with a penalty after Slater’s sinbinning but Billy Twelvetrees quickly cancelled that out.
After something of an arm wrestle in tricky conditions, with plenty of tactical kicking from both sides, Reid then restored the Leicester lead when he jinked his way over for the game’s first try after good work from his pack, Tom Hardwick converting.
Twelvetrees narrowed the gap to 10-6 with a penalty just before half-time, but the Tigers were good value for their half-time lead.
The Cherry and Whites were dealt a further blow as Danny Cipriani failed to emerge for the second half, but his team-mates had more energy about them after the resumption and Simpson’s try was a peach. Tom Marshall cleverly changed the angle of attack, Ollie Thorley made good ground and Simpson ran a great supporting line to take the scoring pass.
Twelvetrees added a superb conversion and the Cherry and Whites had momentum behind them with a 10-13 lead. However, they couldn’t press home their advantage and the odd mental error crept in which allowed the Tigers back into the game.
A poorly-executed 22 drop out led to Hardwick’s second penalty which levelled the scores at 13-13, and the game looked destined to finish as a draw until the Tigers pack forced a penalty which Hardwick just curled inside the right hand upright.
The Cherry and Whites gave it everything with no time left on the clock, but the Tigers defence was committed and held firm as the home clinched their first win of the Premiership season.
Gloucester Rugby will need to regroup ahead of the visit of Saracens next weekend.