Leicester edged to a 38-31 bonus-point victory against Gloucester at Kingsholm
Tries from Matthew Scott (2) and Charlie Sharples gave the Cherry and Whites a 24-7 lead at the break
Four second-half tries saw the Tigers come from behind to snatch the win late on
Leicester got their Aviva Premiership campaign off to the perfect start as they edged past Gloucester to record an impressive bonus-point victory at Kingsholm on Friday evening.
In front of their thunderous home support, the Cherry and Whites were at their scintillating best in an intense opening 40 as they outscored their visitors by three tries to one to lead 24-7 at the break. Debutant centre Matt Scott dotted down a memorable brace while stalwart winger Charlie Sharples capped his return from a long injury lay-off with a try. Tigers sole first half score came from powerhouse centre Manu Tuilagi.
Leicester found themselves even further behind just three minutes after the restart as former Tiger Henry Purdy turned on the afterburners to race over and secure the bonus-point for the hosts, 31-7. The Tigers, who claimed narrow victories in both league meetings between the pair last season, were able to swing the momentum as Rugby World Cup winner JP Pietersen, Sam Harrison and Brendon O’Connor touched down to level things before Leicester’s relentless pressure told.
With the score at 31-31, Harrison bundled over for Tigers in the last-minute at Kingsholm to seal the win.
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill told BT Sport: “I’m delighted with the win. I’m delighted wieth the fitness of the players.
“But I’m so, so disappointed with that first 50 minutes. We were pretty woeful and need to put that right pretty quickly.
“But credit to the players, we got our composure back, and Gloucester ran out of steam, to be fair.
“It was nice to see a 15-man rolling maul to win the game. We’ve pushed the boys a little bit harder and made sure that they’re fit. We’ve got quality to punish teams.”
Leicester Tigers debutant JP Pietersen told BT Sport: “It was a shaky start for us in the first half but I got a proper taste of the English league.
“I was quite worried at 31-7 down, a bit scared. I was like ‘can we do it’? But the boys fight!
Leicester Tigers: Sam Harrison
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 James Hook, 23 Gareth Evans
Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Luke Hamilton, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Greg Bateman, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Will Evans, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Adam Thompstone
Date: Friday, September 2
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Ian Tempest, Peter Allan
TMO: David Grashoff