Sam Harrison’s last-gasp try completed an astonishing comeback as Leicester Tigers overcame a 24-point deficit to beat Gloucester Rugby 38-31 in a breathless Aviva Premiership Rugby contest at Kingsholm.
Scottish international Matt Scott went over twice during his first half in the Cherry & Whites’ jersey to give the hosts an imposing lead, with Charlie Sharples also scoring from an interception and Manu Tuilagi providing the Tigers’ only response.
The game looked up for Tigers when Henry Purdy charged through soon after the break, but four second half-tries still were to come with JP Pietersen and Brend0n O’Connor going over, and Harrison completing a try-double as the clock ticked into the red.
And to top off a wonderful match, Aviva Premiership Rugby history was made as the Burns brothers, Freddie and Billy, became the first pair of siblings to face each other as starting No.10s.
Gloucester enjoyed the vast majority of the early possession, with Billy Twelvetrees and John Afoa combining to unlock the Tigers’ defence for the first real opportunity of the game.
And it was the hosts who opened the scoring with a brilliant handling move down the left flank.
Tom Marshall and Matt Kvesic were both involved to put Scott over in the corner as he supported Twelvetrees perfectly, with the Scot’s international colleague Grieg Laidlaw slotting an excellent conversion from the sideline.
Leicester bounced back quickly however, and despite all the Cherry & Whites’ possession the scores were soon level after stunning footwork from Telusa Veainu moved his side 60 metres downfield.
Marshall’s kick was charged down and after Burns senior put through a grubber, Tuilagi was able to gather Pietersen’s offload and slam the ball down despite Sharples’ last-ditch tackle – with the fly-half adding the extras.
The parity did not last long however. Mathew Tait’s pass just outside the 25 was intercepted by Sharples, and with just grass ahead of him the 27-year-old could pin his ears back and a 21st-minute try was the only result.
And a stunning first-half performance was complete on 33 minutes when another wonderful flowing move was finished off in right corner by Scott, although Ross Moriarty deserved the plaudits too for a perfect step inside and offload out of the back door.
Another Laidlaw conversion made it 24-7 at the interval, and with plenty of work to in the second half Leicester got off to the worst possible start.
It came from a second interception of the game – this time by James Hook, who sent Purdy clear, and he turned Veainu inside out to score.
The Tigers – Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finalists 12 years in a row – showed exactly what they are made of however to hit straight back through Pietersen, who showed his pace down the left-hand side.
And they thought they had a second moments later, but after Adam Thompstone beat Purdy to Burns’ kick through, the TMO ruled he was offside.
But Leicester now had the wind in their sails, and after several mauls were held up illegally on the Gloucester line, Kvesic saw yellow and Harrison burrowed his way over on 56 minutes.
Burns added a scrum penalty just before the hour-mark to set up a grandstand finish with Leicester now within a score at 31-24.
Leicester huffed and puffed in the closing stages with Gloucester also electing to kick a penalty into the corner rather than take the points.
And they were made to rue that decision when Youngs’ box kick over the top saw Pietersen offload to O’Connor, before Harrison – who had levelled the scores with the conversion – then made it a memorable Tigers victory with a last-gasp score.
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