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Tigers dig deep at Kingsholm

Fri, 29 Nov 2013 22:09
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Leicester Tigers moved into the Premiership top four with a 22-17 victory over Gloucester at Kingsholm on Friday.

Captain Toby Flood kicked three penalties in the space of 12 minutes as Tigers fought back from 13-17 down early in the second half.

Flood kicked 17 points in all, converting Dan Bowden's first-half try and adding two other penalties during the opening period.

However, they trailed their hosts 13-14 at the break after Freddie Burns' interception try and a breakaway score on the stroke of half-time for Jonny May.

But it was Tigers who kept their composure in a tense and nervy finish to secure a second win on the road, a fourth in a row in all competitions and a sixth in their last seven encounters with Gloucester.

Blaine Scully and Marcos Ayerza returned from international duty with the United States and Argentina respectively to claim a place in the starting line-up.

Ayerza joined England and Lions duo Tom Youngs and Dan Cole in the front row, while Scully came in on the wing.

Thomas Waldrom started in the No.8 shirt while Adam Thompstone joined Dan Bowden at centre after Matt Smith's injury in the win over London Irish last weekend.

Gloucester included former Tigers centre Billy Twelvetrees in their back line

The hosts enjoyed the early possession, stringing together a series of phases along the Tigers 22 where they met stiff resistance, led by Julian Salvi, before a knock-on brought the attack to an end.

Quick hands gave Graham Kitchener room to stretch his legs and take Tigers into the Gloucester half for the first time. Adam Thompstone and Miles Benjamin continued the attack before Waldrom spilled possession in the tackle.

Jonny May's angled run from the left wing began a counterattack from inside the Gloucester half which allowed Shane Monahan to make 30m down the right flank. He was well tackled by Benjamin before Tigers were caught offside in midfield. But Burns was wide with his kick.

Burns claimed the first points moments later through an interception try. Tigers tried to make the most of a penalty advantage but as referee Greg Garner called the advantage over Burns intercepted Flood's pass on halfway and had a free run to the line. Burns converted for a 7-0 lead to the hosts after nine minutes.

The Tigers pack won a penalty at the first scrum and Flood knocked it over for Leicester's opening points.

Solid Tigers defence prevented Gloucester making headway at the other end before Burns was wide with a dropped goal attempt.

Tigers were put under pressure by Burns' penalty to the corner before Tigers hauled down the drive. Burns played the advantage but his long pass to Monahan was knocked into touch by Hamilton as he tried to intercept.

The referee came back for the penalty and when Burns kicked to the corner, Tigers defended the initial drive excellently before Salvi stole possession. However, Scully was isolated as he tried to run out of his 22 and conceded the penalty, but Burns was again wide with the kick.

Burns then kicked straight into touch to give Tigers a platform on the Gloucester 10m line. Gibson was pulled down at the lineout and Flood landed the penalty to leave Leicester a point behind after 24 minutes.

Burns turned down a kick at goal when Ben Youngs went offside, taking the tap himself. He ran into a mass of Leicester bodies before Gloucester were pinged for not releasing a couple of phases later.

Flood put Benjamin through a gap in midfield but he was superbly tackled midway inside the Gloucester half. Flood was at the centre of a lovely backs move, looping around Bowden to send Hamilton into the Gloucester 22. There the hosts went offside but Flood was wide with the resulting penalty as Tigers trailed 7-6 after 30 minutes.

Waldrom and Kitchern displayed neat hands to put Ayerza on a run down the left but the prop lost possession in the tackle on the hosts' 22.

Tigers were on top at this stage and made it count with their first try from the resulting scrum. Ben Youngs stripped opposite number Dan Robson of possession at the back of the scrum, Tom Youngs set up the ruck and Flood's offload put Bowden in next to the posts. It was Bowden's second try of the campaign and, converted by Flood, gave Tigers a 13-7 lead.

Flood was wide with a penalty from distance, but his kicking from hand into both corners kept Gloucester pinned in their 22.

Tigers looked to add a second try as half-time approached with Gibson galloping down the left flank. However, Benjamin's pass was intercepted and, with the Tigers players committed to the attack, Trinder hacked long and gathered the bouncing ball for a 50m run to the line. Rob Cook landed the conversion to put Gloucester 14-13 ahead at the break.

Cook missed the chance to extend the lead early in the second half when he was wide with a penalty from the right.

Tigers then had the Gloucester pack under pressure at a scrum on halfway but were pinged for Cole losing his binding. Tigers were then penalised for pulling down Ben Morgan in the lineout but Cook was wide with the kick.

Gloucester looked to have gone offside as they chased Burns' up-and-under. However, it was Scully who was pinged for holding on in the tackle and Twelvetrees landed the kick from a central position to put Gloucester 17-13 ahead.

A sweeping move involving Flood and Benjamin gave Scully space to run into. He was well tackled on the Gloucester 22 before Tigers knocked-on at the next phase as they tried to force the attack.

Kitchener's burst onto Flood's pass took Tigers into the shadow of the posts where Monahan came in at the side of the ruck. Flood struck a simple penalty to leave Tigers 17-16 down with 15 minutes left.

The tension around Kingsholm was tangible as good work by Salvi won a penalty on halfway and Flood's kick gave Tigers a platform on the Gloucester 22. Ben Youngs, Benjamin and Hamilton worked a move off the back of the lineout but Scully was tackled into touch just short of the line.

However, the Gloucester lineout went forward, giving Tigers a five-metre scrum. The pack won a penalty and Flood opted for the posts, landing his fourth successful penalty to move Tigers 19-17 ahead with 10 minutes left.

Kitchener wrapped up Cook under the high ball to win another scrum inside the Gloucester half. Tigers had the Gloucester eight under pressure again, winning a penalty, which Flood knocked over to put Tigers 22-17 ahead with five minutes left.

Tigers weathered late Gloucester pressure with Twelvetrees looking to punch a hole in midfield. But he knocked-on under Salvi's tackle before Gloucester conceded the penalty as they tried to win back possession.

Deacon then gathered possession at a lineout and as Tigers inched the maul forward, it was pulled down giving Flood one last penalty kick at goal. However, he was unable to add the points and Cook returned the ball with interest as the clock ticked past full-time.

Gloucester managed to keep the ball alive and inch their way up to halfway where they won a penalty and then another 10m for indiscipline. However, the defence held firm and a penalty in midfield for crossing allowed Flood to bring the game to an end.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:
Tries:
Burns, May
Cons: Burns, Cook
Pen:  Twelvetrees

For Leicester Tigers:
Try:
Bowden
Con: Flood
Pens: Flood 5

Teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Shane Monahan, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Tom Savage (captain), 5 James Hudson, 4 Lua Lokotui, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Martyn Thomas.

Leicester: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Adam Thompstone, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Toby Flood (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Javiah Pohe.

Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Gareth Copsey
TMO: Trevor Fisher

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