Freddie Burns inspired Gloucester Rugby to a thrilling 27-21 Aviva Premiership win over Leicester Tigers with a 17-point display as the Cherry & Whites produced a stunning rearguard action at Kingsholm.
Reduced to 13 men and with their scrum in tatters the home side somehow dug deep to hold on for a victory which also featured scores from Charlie Sharples and Akapusi Qera.
A Scott Hamilton try plus a penalty score and 11 points from Toby Flood looked to have set the Tigers up for a grandstand finish but it was Gloucester who held on to stretch their unbeaten run to eight games.
The Cherry & Whites started like a house on fire and were 7-0 to the good inside 90 seconds when Sharples gleefully scooped up a deft grubber kick from Burns to touch down.
Gloucester had put Leicester under pressure right from the whistle with a marauding run from Ben Morgan and when the ball was recycled wide Burns showed a cool head to set up Sharples for his 23rd Aviva Premiership try.
Burns’ curling effort added the extras but the margin was almost immediately reduced when another in-form fly-half, Flood, kicked a penalty.
It was 10-3 when Burns’ boot was again to the fore with a penalty however a Hamilton score in the corner, given after consultation with the television match official with the wing only just getting the ball down under pressure from Morgan, reduced the margin.
Flood missed with his conversion attempt from out wide as a breathless, but error-filled, opening 15 minutes came to a close.
However the action didn’t stop there. The impressive Burns produced another inch-perfect chip – this time for himself to collect – after 20 minutes and crossed for a stunning score which he converted easily to make it 17-8.
The visitors managed to stem the Gloucester flow for the rest of the half with their superiority in the scrum and they reduced the margin to six points with a late Flood penalty.
The Cherry & Whites drew first blood after the break when another flowing move, again starring Burns, saw Tigers back row Steve Mafi penalised for a high tackle on the marauding James Simpson-Daniel.
Burns kicked the resulting penalty but the Tigers dominant scrum again claimed a scalp after 48 minutes when Gloucester collapsed the set-piece, a fourth scrum penalty conceded, and Flood slotted the three points.
The battle of the No. 10s continued minutes later when the Gloucester fly-half was wayward with a very kickable opportunity to keep the scores at 20-14.
However he made no mistake from a near-identical position minutes later after Simpson-Daniel brought the Kingsholm house down.
The flying winger produced a sensational counter-attack to beat four Leicester defenders before putting Fijian back-rower Qera in to cross.
However the game turned on its head minutes later. First Jimmy Cowan was sin-binned for illegally coming in at the side as Leicester turned the screw before full-back Rob Cook was also yellow-carded for intentionally knocking a Flood cross-field kick into touch with Vereniki Goneva ready to pounce.
The creaking Gloucester scrum conceded a penalty try on the hour mark and Flood kicked the extras to make it 27-21.
Leicester were seemingly on the verge of turning the game around but Gloucester’s scrum somehow came back from the edge.
The Cherry & Whites didn’t concede any more points while Cook and Cowan were off and in a thrilling finish they kept the Leicester tides at bay to take the victory.