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Stunning fightback gives Tigers bonus-point win

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Leicester Tigers staged a stunning fightback to overturn a 17-point deficit and beat Gloucester Rugby 35-30 at Welford Road on Saturday afternoon.

Tigers scored five tries in a breathless Aviva Premiership encounter that swung one way and then the other in front of 22,223 spectators.
 
Leicester raced into an early lead as Telusa Veainu and Manu Tuilagi scored a try each. But Gloucester hit back with a three-try salvo through Steve McColl, Henry Trinder and Paddy McAllister to stun Welford Road and take a 27-10 lead.
 
But Tigers came out roaring in the second half. And with the home crowd in full voice Tuilagi crossed for his second then created a try for Peter Betham with a lovely back-of-the-hand pass.
 
But it still needed a score from Vereniki Goneva to secure the win and equal Tigers' biggest comeback, which came against London Irish at The Twickenham Stoop in 1999 and away to Worcester Warriors earlier this season.
 
Tigers gave a first-team debut to 19-year-old Academy graduate Will Evans. Evans was named in the starting XV after Lachlan McCaffrey failed a fitness test. He joined club captain Ed Slater and British & Irish Lion Tom Croft in the back row.
 
Telusa Veainu and Logovi’i Mulipola returned to the starting line-up, while Owen Williams was at fly-half with Freddie Burns moving to the bench. Betham partnered Tuilagi in midfield.
 
Gloucester took a fourth-minute lead through a penalty by their captain Greg Laidlaw after Tigers were pinged for failing to roll from the tackle.
 
Tigers’ response was emphatic. Tuilagi’s run sucked in a couple of defenders allowing Betham to straighten his line through the defence and find Veainu on his outside to run in from 30m. It was Veianu’s ninth try of the season and gave Leicester a 5-3 lead after 10 minutes.
 
They had a second try two minutes later. Barrow spun out of a tackle to take Tigers into the Gloucester 22. Veainu was halted just short of the line but Leicester maintained possession and Youngs’s looped pass found Betham on the touchline where his acrobatic leap kept the ball in play and found Tuilagi inside for an easy finish to double the lead.
 
The sun was shining on Welford Road, and the Tigers looked to run the ball as much as they could. One Veainu break from his own 22 was let down by the pass which failed to go to hand.
 
Gloucester, meanwhile, were being nudged into attacking areas by their British & Irish Lions fly-half James Hook. And when Tigers failed to control lineout ball in their 22, they conceded a penalty and Laidlaw cut the lead to 10-6 midway through the first half.
 
Slater had a try chalked off for a forward pass after following up good work by Goneva. Play came back for a high tackle by Hook on Williams but as Tigers tried to hammer home the position, Youngs’s pass was intercepted and the position went away.
 
It was a warning sign for the Tigers.
 
Evans won back possession with a superb jackal on Ben Morgan but this time Hook intercepted Betham’s pass on the Gloucester 22 and broke. He had winger McColl on his outside to finish by the posts. Laidlaw’s conversion gave Gloucester a 13-10 lead.
 
Gloucester extended their lead shortly afterwards. Henry Trinder wrong-footed Williams and the centre went over untouched for Gloucester’s second try. Converted by Laidlaw it gave the visitors a 20-10 lead.
 
Gloucester swarmed forward in search of a third try before half-time. They went through phase after phase before prop Paddy McCallister finished from close range. Laidlaw landed the touchline conversion. Gloucester had scored 24 unanswered points, including three tries in nine minutes, to hold a 27-10 lead two minutes before half-time.
 
There was still time for Tigers to win a penalty as Kvesic infringed in front of the posts and Williams’s kick left Leicester 27-13 behind at the break.
 
Tigers made two changes at half-time, Brendon O’Connor came on for Slater and Marcos Ayerza replaced Mulipola.
 
Tigers made a positive start to the second period, Veainu broke a tackle in midfield to get them on the front foot. He had Thompstone in support but the winger took contact with Tuilagi on his outside. Veainu and Thompstone combined again moments later, Veaniu’s nimble feet creating the opening but Thompstone was unable to collect the offload with the line in sight.
 
The pressure eventually told and again Veainu was at the heart of things. He burst on to Youngs’s reverse pass, presented quick ball, allowing Tuilagi to break Laidlaw’s tackle and score his second try of the game. Williams’s conversion cut the deficit to 27-20.
 
It was Tigers’ turn to get on top. Williams’s clever kick was collected by Tuilagi to open up the Gloucester defence. Betham’s pass evaded Veainu but Goneva kept the ball alive for Evans to go within 8m. The forwards piled forward and were held up over the line.
 
Tigers were still in a promising position with a 5m scrum but it was lost as Goneva and Tuilagi were pinged for crossing.
 
Evans won back possession with another turnover and Tuilagi then won a penalty at the next phase. Williams landed his kick to leave Leicester 27-23 behind with 25 minutes remaining.
 
Evans was replaced by Greg Bateman with Thacker moving to seven as Gloucester threatened the Leicester line. However, a stamp by Darren Dawidiuk was spotted by the officials giving Tigers the penalty and the chance to clear their lines.
 
However, Gloucester came again and won a penalty in a central position as Tigers turned over possession illegally and Laidlaw restored their seven-point lead.
 
Tigers got themselves right back in the hunt with a bonus-point fourth try with 12 minutes left. Barrow stole possession at a lineout on the Gloucester 22 before Tuilagi’s brilliant back-of-the-hand pass gave Betham a free run to the line. It went converted to leave Leicester 30-28 behind.
 
Tigers survived a scare when Hook’s drop-goal attempt came back off a post and then bounced dead in-goal.
 
It was a huge moment in the game as Tigers swept upfield to score their fifth try. Mathew Tait, on as a second-half replacement, and then O’Connor made huge inroads up the right flank. It created an overlap on the left where Goneva was unmarked to score. Williams’s conversion gave Leicester a 35-30 lead with five minutes left.
 
Tigers had to withstand one final Gloucester lineout 5m from their line. The Cherry and Whites secured possession and hammered away through more than 10 phases. But Tigers stood firm and Betham, the BT Sport Man-of-the-Match won the holding-on penalty to signal the end of the game.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 13-27 GLO

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 35-30 GLO

Attendance

22,223

Referee

JP Doyle

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Gloucester Rugby
Possession
50%
50%
Territory
50%
50%
Penalties Conceded
8
10
Yellow Cards
0
0
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
127/153 83%
112/136 82%
Scrums Won
2/2 100%
5/6 83%
Lineouts Won
14/14 0%
5/5 0%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Gloucester Rugby
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Telusa Veainu1T
14
13Peter Betham1T
12Manu Tuilagi2T
111T
102C2P
9Ben Youngs
1Logovi'i Mulipola
2Harry Thacker
3Dan Cole
4
5Graham Kitchener
6
7Will Evans
8Ed Slater
16Greg Bateman
17Marcos Ayerza
18Fraser Balmain
19Sebastian De Chaves
20
21
22
23
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
35

Full Time

Gloucester Rugby
Gloucester Rugby
30

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

Subs

Marcos Ayerza
17
Marcos Ayerza
Fraser Balmain
18
Fraser Balmain
Sebastian De Chaves
19
Sebastian De Chaves
22

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
14
Rob Cook
13
Henry Trinder
12
Mark Atkinson
11
Steve McColl
10
9
1
Paddy McAllister
2
3
Paul Doran-Jones
4
5
Mariano Galarza
6
Gareth Evans
7
Matt Kvesic
8
Ben Morgan

Subs

16
Luke Cole
17
Yann Thomas
18
John Afoa
19
Elliott Stooke
20
Lewis Ludlow
21
Callum Braley
22
Ollie Thorley
23
Jacob Rowan
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
4
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI2214085094753455486365
8
Gloucester Rugby
Gloucester RugbyGLO2210111429423636442549
Form Guide
Form
WDWDD
Last Match
Draw with Bayonne null-null
Past Meeting
Won 38-15
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WLLLL
Last Match
Lost to Newcastle Falcons 10-22
Past Meeting
Lost 15-38

Matchday Live

Leicester Tigers35
Leicester Tigers
Gloucester Rugby30
Gloucester Rugby
Full Time