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Leicester Tigers 17 Gloucester Rugby 12

29 Dec 2012
Leicester Tigers 17 Gloucester Rugby 12

Anthony Allen scored the decisive try against his former club as Leicester Tigers edged Gloucester Rugby 17-12 in treacherous conditions at a rain-lashed Welford Road to go second in the Aviva Premiership.

Allen, who started his career with the Kingsholm outfit, scored the decisive second-half try in a nervy encounter, with George Ford shaking off a poor first-half display to dispatch two crucial penalties in the closing stages.

Though they dominated large periods of the game the hosts had been frustrated by the Cherry and Whites, who went in 6-3 ahead at the break thanks to the boot of Freddie Burns despite struggling at the set-piece from the start of proceedings.

The weather accounted for the high penalty count, with two players from each side seeing yellow and prevented both teams from playing expansive rugby.

Gloucester secured their fourth losing bonus point of the season to keep pace with the top three – as Burns claimed all 12 points – but could have won it at the death, stopped only by heroic last-gasp Tigers defending on the line.

Rising youngster Ford got the Tigers up and running after four minutes by dispatching a simple penalty, returning England lock and man-of-the-match Geoff Parling forcing the Gloucester infringement at the breakdown.

England fly-half Burns responded in kind at the other end from just inside Gloucester’s half to level proceedings in the eighth minute.

But the home side were unable to capitalise on Gloucester’s repeated infringements at the scrum – with Ford dragging his effort wide from 35 metres out.

And as the penalty count rose for the Kingsholm outfit Gloucester inevitably lost prop Shaun Knight to the sin-bin three minutes later.

But it was the Cherry and Whites who scored the next points – Burns splitting the post from 40 metres to put his side ahead after flanker Julian Salvi was penalised for going off his feet.

The Tigers were still in control territorially but Ford scuffed a 35-metre effort short of the posts as a five-minute spell of pressure came to nothing.

As Knight returned from the bin it was Leicester’s turn to go down to 14 men, Ben Youngs yellow-carded for not moving away – but Burns failed to capitalise as he nudged his penalty narrowly wide from right of centre.

After repelling early pressure Gloucester went 9-3 up after the restart – Burns intercepting a poor pass and kicking ahead from half-way, only to be held in the tackle by Ford under the posts.

The Tigers fly-half was yellow-carded, just as Youngs returned to the fray, and Burns knocked over the simplest of penalties to extend the lead to six points.

Leicester’s response was immediate – storming into the Gloucester 22 with Youngs releasing Allen to crash over in the corner against his former club.

But Geordan Murphy was unable to add the extra points, leaving Richard Cockerill’s side trailing 9-8.

But they would edge 11-9 ahead on 54 minutes, Murphy making no mistake from a penalty after Gloucester lock Will James became the fourth player to visit the sin-bin for holding on at the breakdown.

Burns missed an opportunity to restore the lead from the right touchline before Ford made amends for his earlier misses, putting Leicester five points ahead after replacement Martin Castrogiovanni forced yet another infringement from Nigel Davies’ pack.

But Leicester were unable to make a decisive score and Burns dragged the visitors back into it with 14 minutes to go, dispatching a perfect penalty from the right to bring the score back to 14-12.

Ford responded in kind – keeping his nerve to score his third penalty after Gloucester were penalised for offside.

The result was not secured until the final seconds – Leicester defending valiantly on their try line and eventually forcing a Martyn Thomas knock-on just metres from the line.

A scrum penalty gave Gloucester possession again as time expired but Leicester once again turned the ball over to secure a scrappy victory and go second in the Aviva Premiership table ahead of Saracens’ clash with Northampton Saints on Sunday.

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