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Tigers maul brave Gloucester

02 Jan 2005
Tigers maul brave Gloucester

The matched showed why Leicester are top of the table, as they soaked up all the early pressure piled on them by a hardy Gloucester outfit and then came back to secure the game midway through the second half.

Gloucester went up 10-0 after just 12 minutes, through two fine tries, but thereafter scored just three points in the next 70 minutes – with the Leicester Tigers throwing up a solid defensive wall.

Martin Johnson men played low risk rugby and once they had their noses in front – in the 35th minute – they kept kicking deep into Gloucester territory and the home team then had to take the risks from inside their own half.

Gloucester started like a house on fire and dominated the opening quarter, but it was Tigers who finished the first half the stronger of the two teams.

The scoring was opened in the fourth minute of play, when England centre Henry Paul put through a great little chip for Nathan Mauger to collect and score. Paul's conversion attempt was wide, but the log leaders knew they were in for a game.

The Cherry and Whites continued to pile up the pressure on the visitors and what was an inspired start by the home side.

In the 12th minute Gloucester went 10-0 up when Adam Eustace went over for the second try – coming through some good support play. Paul's conversion attempt bounced off the posts.

Martin Johnson's Tigers certainly didn't panic in the face of this early onslaught and in the 15th minute they made it 10-7 through a great Leon Lloyd try – with Ollie Smith's backdoor pass setting up the score. Andy Goode added the conversion and kicked a penalty in the 19th minute to make it 10-all.

Leicester, despite losing No.8 Martin Corry with a dislocated elbow early on, started to dominate proceedings. And Gloucester gave away another silly penalty, in the 25th minute, for coming in at the side of the ruck. But this time Goode pushed it wide of the uprights.

The visitors finally took the lead in the 35th minute when Gloucester was penalised – a questionable decision by all accounts – for something at a maul. Goode added the penalty for a 13-10 lead.

Leicester extended their lead in the last minute of regulation time of the first half, when the Gloucester defence was sucked in through some low risk, driving play and Ollie Smith finding space out wide to score his team's second try. Goode pushed another kick wide, but at 18-10 they were looking good.

Goode stretched that lead to 11 points with a drop-goal deep into injury time – to make it 21-10 at the break.

Gloucester came back strongly after the break and was soon rewarded when a Henry Paul penalty in the 45th minute saw the home team narrow the gap to 21-13.

But the Tigers stretched their lead in the 51st when Goode put through a neat little kick, which bounced back off the post, with Daryl Gibson collecting the rebound to score under the uprights. Goode added the conversion for a 15-point lead – at 28-13.

Gloucester certainly did not gave up the fight and a couple of penalties, followed by a warning from the referee for repeated infringements by the Tigers, resulted in a yellow for Leon Lloyd and 10 minutes in the sin bin.

The home side failed to turn their numerical advantage into any points, with a tap and grubber coming to nothing.

In fact Gloucester's discipline let them down, when they gave away a silly penalty and Goode having a a shot at goal with 20 minutes to go. It was wide, but Gloucester was left starting from deep inside their half when they were two metres from the Tigers line just minutes earlier.

Gloucester, in their desperation to get a score, continued to make mistakes. And the Tigers showed their rivals how to survive under pressure – soaking up the pressure and feeding off the home team's mistakes.

Another problem for the Gloucester team was that while they often kept the ball through many phases, they failed to make any real progress and only moved sideways.

The Tigers showed some true grit in keeping a series of late Gloucester charges at bay, despite being pinned inside their own half. It showed the class of the visitors and why they are top of the standings.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:Tries: Mauger, EustacePen: Paul

For Leicester Tigers:Tries: Lloyd, Smith, GibsonCons: Goode 2Pens: Goode 2DG: Goode

Yellow card: Leon Lloyd (Tigers, 55)

For more news, try out Gloucester Rugby v Leicester Tigers

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