Tommy Bell’s last-gasp conversion of Logovi’i Mulipola’s try gave Leicester Tigers a dramatic victory over Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm.
Freddie Burns’ struggles from the kicking tee appeared to have cost the Tigers the game against his former club.
But with Ben Morgan in the sin bin, the Tigers made their man advantage count late on as the impressive Mathew Tait got free and fed Mulipola.
That was the Tigers’ third try of the match but they still needed Bell – who took over the kicking duties following the withdrawal of Burns – to hold his nerve.
Earlier two quickfire Gloucester tries from James Hook and Morgan looked to have been enough for the home side but the Tigers came back through Marcos Ayerza and Telusa Veainu’s scores.
And in the final moments it was Mulipola who ended Gloucester unbeaten home run that stretched back to November in all competitions and keep the Tigers third in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
Burns went from zero to hero and back to zero all in the space of the first half at Kingsholm as the Tigers struggled to gain momentum against their hosts.
After a bright start the fly-half tugged a very kickable penalty wide and around the quarter-hour mark the hosts found their form.
First Hook stepped his way over from close range after the Cherry & Whites had twice been held up over the line.
Hook added the conversion and then saw his opposite man Burns’ day get worse still – the Tigers fly-half colliding with Veainu from the restart, spilling the loose ball and releasing Gloucester again.
And moments later the Cherry & Whites had their second score, Hook’s miss pass out to the left released David Halaifonua and his ball back inside put Morgan over in the corner.
Hook hit the post with the extras but at 12-0 the home side were threatening to break the game open until Burns finally found his form.
His delightful chip and chase pushed the Tigers deep into Gloucester territory and after Tom Croft was dragged down just short it was Ayerza who barged over for his first try in Aviva Premiership Rugby since 2011.
Burns added the tricky conversion as well making it 12-7 at the half-hour mark but inconsistency continued to plague his game.
Before the interval he he missed another relatively simple penalty and up the other end Hook showed him how it was done to open up a 15-7 Gloucester lead at the break.
Gloucester impressed in the early skirmishes of the second half but could not get the points to reward their dominance and at the hour mark it was still 15-7.
Steve McColl’s clever chip and chase the closest they came to a score and they were nearly punished by a fine break from Tait down the left
Nicky Thomas won a vital turnover on his own try line to stop the Tigers that time but moments later Gloucester were left powerless to prevent a dramatic length of the field score.
Peter Betham broke down the left touchline from his own 22, fed Jordan Crane and the replacement timed his pass to perfection to put Veainu over.
But once again Burns could not find his range from the tee, missing with the extras and keeping the home side 15-12 ahead as the game entered the final ten minutes.
Hook again showed Burns how to do it moments later, slotting a penalty to make it 18-12 and seemingly seal victory.
But the Tigers kept coming, again down the left they made inroads and but for a fine tackle from Halaifonua, Tait would have gone over.
However, JP Doyle spotted Morgan’s pull back on Veainu in the build up and the No.8 was shown a yellow card – setting up a dramatic finish with Mulipola and Bell combining to silence Kingsholm.