Leicester Tigers show signs of reaching old heights in win over Gloucester

·4-min read
Harry Potter shows off his wizardry as the Leicester breaks through the Gloucester defence - GETTY IMAGES
Harry Potter shows off his wizardry as the Leicester breaks through the Gloucester defence - GETTY IMAGES

Gloucester 26-33 Leicester

If Leicester Tigers are not completely back to the force of old just yet, they are unquestionably getting there.

They should have been out of sight here by the closing stages. Yet it took a Tommy Reffell turnover penalty with the clock in red and Leicester defending desperately on their own line for victory to be secured.

Still, a second bonus-point win to start the season, three tries from the Leicester pack and impressive contributions from Nemani Nadolo and, of course, the new club captain Ellis Genge paved the way to victory. Gloucester are a work in progress, no question, but to their immense credit kept pestering Leicester right until the death and stayed in the game, aided by a mixed night off the tee from George Ford.

"There is plenty to be proud of in terms of the attitude and fight that the players had. Plenty of mistakes were made as well, which is disappointing, but we have plenty to work on," reflected Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick.

"Having the players fight as hard as they did is a very strong foundation. What we want to do is not put ourselves in those situations. We did tonight, we came through it and have to learn from that."

Early penalties hurt Gloucester last week at Northampton and they fell into the same bad habits here, allowing Ford to knock over two penalties in the opening six minutes.

Leicester appear to have revived their love for short-range power, and after Jack van Poortvliet's pass sent Harry Potter on a run the forwards took over, Harry Wells reaching into the ruck and dotting down with minimal fuss.

Gloucester seemed to hit back immediately - Ellis Genge slipping at the scrum and then angling in, Gloucester kicking to the corner, before after hard work from Gloucester's pack Fraser Balmain went over, getting Gloucester into the game trailing 7-13.

A dynamite carry from Genge showed just how dangerous Leicester can be, but if it's thundering power you're after, sit down and watch Nadolo. The Fijian's outrageous rumble down the touchline had Gloucester scrambling, losing Kyle Moyle as a result for killing the ball to a yellow card.

Nic Dolly scores the Tigers' fourth try - GETTY IMAGES
Nic Dolly scores the Tigers' fourth try - GETTY IMAGES

From another Gloucester handling error Tigers made the hosts pay - Lloyd Evans' escape act in his own 22 falling flat as Reffell pounced for a turnover penalty. Leicester went quickly, moving the ball wide as Van Poortvliet put over a rampaging Genge. Even 'The Shed', happily giving Genge some 'eeyores' after an earlier knock-on, grumbled their approval.

To their credit Gloucester responded well. Reffell's dangerous low tackle, sending Ruan Ackermann cartwheeling, gave Gloucester a penalty and from the resulting lineout in the corner they capitalised - Evans' looping, wide pass finding Ackermann in space for the flanker to have his revenge with a try, as Leicester led 18-12 at the break.

A bit of wizardry from Potter carving through some tired tackling on a kick return led to Tigers' third try, the first points after the break.

And yet once more Gloucester rallied, Mark Atkinson this time with a heck of a try, his dummy followed by a spin move past Reffell as he went over under the posts.

With the Leicester scrum now churning out penalties they went for the jugular - Nic Dolly scoring his third try in two games off the rolling maul to secure the bonus point.

Ollie Chessum's yellow card however opened the door for Gloucester to chase bonuses of their own, Jack Clement scoring off the maul and new signing Adam Hastings converting to draw Gloucester within seven.

"I think we will take massive confidence from certain areas. I thought the set-piece was outstanding," said Gloucester head coach George Skivington afterwards.

Leicester should have been home and dry, but a breakdown penalty against them with five seconds left gave Gloucester one final opportunity. Leicester stopped the Gloucester maul, then the short-range carries, before finally Reffell pounced to snuff out Gloucester's hopes of an emphatic draw.

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