Gloucester 18-19 Leicester: Tommy Bell keeps his composure to kick Tigers to a memorable last-gasp win at Kingsholm
Leicester came from behind to overcome Gloucester 19-18 at Kingsholm
Tries from James Hook and Ben Morgan gave the Cherry and Whites a 15-7 lead at the break
Second half scores from Telusa Veainu and Logovi’i Mulipola got the Tigers right back in it
Tommy Bell’s 79th-minute conversion then delivered the visitors a narrow one-point win
A last-minute try from Logovi’i Mulipola, converted by Tommy Bell, helped complete Leicester’s comeback after falling behind at the Kingsholm Stadium.
After a drab opening 20 minutes, Gloucester raced into a 12-0 advantage courtesy of a James Hook score and a miscommunication between Telusa Veainu and Freddie Burns under the high ball which resulted in Ben Morgan powering over for a second just two minutes later. Leicester reduced the gap through a rare try from Marcos Ayerza before Hook added penalty minutes before the break to edge the Cherry and Whites eight points clear at half-time, 15-7.
Veainu dabbed down to reduce the deficit before Tigers’ winning try came after the home side had been reduced to 14 men for the final five minutes as forward Morgan was yellow carded after being adjudged by the TMO to have held back Veainu when he looked set to be handed a scoring pass.
Samoan prop Mulipola was then able to force his was over, allowing Bell to seal the victory by a single point with the conversion.
Leicester, whose only defeat in the last five rounds of Premiership Rugby came on a visit to Saracens on January 2nd, looked sharper in the opening exchanges and should have taken the lead early on but Freddie Burns, against his former club, missed from the tee to the joy of the home support.
The game, still pointless after 20 minutes, then finally came to life as the Cherry and Whites touched down two tries in an action-packed three-minute period. First fly-half Hook found a gap out wide following a five-metre scrum to squeeze in for the game’s first points, before adding the two himself.
Two minutes later Tigers pushed the self-destruct button here as two of their players collided with Tevita Halaifonua moments then putting in back-rower Morgan, who charged over in the corner for the second score of the game. Hook this time could not convert, 12-0.
Tigers though struck back immediately a visitors recycled the ball quickly for Marcos Ayerza to drive over from a metre out, bringing his run of 96 games without a try to an end. Burns then added the conversion to reduce the deficit to five points.
However, Hook slotted an attempt at goal just before the interval to push Gloucester’s lead out to eight heading into half-time, 15-7.
The second half started slowly, and it wasn’t until the 68th minute that Leicester found their way to the try line on the left wing, as Telusa Veainu dabbed down. Freddie Burns failed to make the conversion from out wide, which meant the Tigers still trailed by three.
Hook answered immediately to extend Gloucester’s lead to six points, converting his second penalty of the game with less than ten minutes remaining, 18-12.
However, in the final moments of the game, replacement prop Mulipola reached for the line after sustained pressure from Leicester, allowing Bell to seal the victory by a single point with the conversion.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Leicester: Telusa Veainu
Gloucester: 15 Steve McColl, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 David Halaifonua, 10 James Hook, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Mark Atkinson
Leicester: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Mathew Tait (c), 12 Matt Smith, 11 Telusa Veainu, 10 Freddie Burns. 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Tom Croft, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Greg Bateman, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Riccardo Brugnara, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Sebastian de Chaves, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Gonzalo Camacho, 23 Jack Roberts
Date: Saturday, January 30
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Nigel Carrick
TMO: Graham Hughes