Australian Lote Tuqiri knocked on in the final second to hand Gloucester their first Guinness Premiership home win since beating Bath on the opening day of the season.
In a frantic finale, Tuqiri would surely have won the match for Leicester had he caught a pass from centre Anthony Allen with the Gloucester line exposed and little cover around. However, he passed up the opportunity and in truth defeat would have been hard on Gloucester after their dominance in the second period.
In the end two penalties and two drop goals from fly-half Freddie Burns proved the difference. The win was a boost for the Cherry and Whites, who had been languishing at the wrong end of the table with just two league wins from seven starts.
They have not been helped by the absence of 16 players through injury or suspension or on international duty – and that number increased to 17 just before kick-off when ex-England full-back Olly Morgan pulled out.
The omens were not good for the Cherry and Whites as Leicester had beaten them at Kingsholm on the last three occasions in all competitions.
Leicester looking to increase the pressure on second-placed London Irish, Gloucester were encouraged when they moved 6-3 ahead after 20 minutes thanks to two penalties from Burns, Jeremy Staunton replying for the Tigers. And a Burns drop goal put Gloucester further ahead before half-time.
The interval score summed up a forward-dominated clash in which one of the few try-scoring chances saw ex-England wing Lesley Vainikolo get within ten metres of the line before referee Sean Davey called the teams back for a forward pass.
Burns’ second opportunist drop goal was cancelled out by Staunton’s third penalty of the night, although Gloucester coach Bryan Redpath must have been the more pleased than Cockerill at his pack’s aggression in the loose which saw them powerfully turn over Leicester advantage in the loose.
Leicester, however, did have a chance to break the try duck when a pass on the home try-line from scrum-half Ben Youngs at a ruck went flying past flanker Brett Deacon’s grasp.
Gloucester played a tactical card early in the second-half when New Zealander Carlos Spencer came on as a fly-half replacement, and, with the Cherry and Whites’ spirits lifted, they cornered Leicester in their own half for a long period.
They had the Tigers under the cosh but failed to capitalise as scrum-half Dave Lewis made two blistering runs but could not find a receiver, while handling and ruck mistakes allowed Leicester to clear their lines.
The Tigers did not make it any easier on themselves when, still three points behind, they lost full-back Scott Hamilton to the sin-bin for killing the ball at a ruck.
Leicester woke up with five minutes to go, with scrum-half Ben Youngs missing a long-range penalty and home flanker Jake Boer preventing replacement Toby Flood from attempting a drop-goal to tie the scores. Then came the final push and Tuqiri’s ultimate mistake that ended the Tigers’ winning run at Kingsholm.