Leicester Tigers Development XV were beaten 33-15 by Gloucester United in the opening round of the Premiership Rugby Shield at Kingsholm on Monday evening.
Skipper Harry Simmons marked his 22nd birthday with a try as Tigers trailed 14-7 at half-time, but Gloucester turned their possession and pressure into further points in the second half to pull away and register their bonus-point win before Jimmy Stevens added the other try for the visitors.
Coaches Brett Deacon and Boris Stankovich included 12 academy graduates in the Tigers starting team with another four among the replacements. But tries from centre partners Jack Reeves and Tom Seabrook – scoring in almost identical fashion attacking a short pass from a close-range ruck – put the hosts in a commanding position before Simmons supplied the Tigers reply just before half-time.
Gloucester had dominated possession and territory without creating another clear scoring opportunity until tighthead prop Ciaran Knight was penalised for a double movement as he pushed over the tryline in the final action of the half.
In reply, Tigers had only had half-chances, the first as Freddie Steward broke from deep to set Leo Gilliland away on the left, but he was tackled into touch, and then Johnny McPhillips hacked loose ball up to the five-metre line before Gloucester covered in defence.
The Simmons try followed some enterprise in midfield as McPhillips chipped over the defence and the ball bounced perfectly for Costelow to put the skipper away to score under the posts. Costelow added the conversion.
Stevens made his first appearance in a Tigers shirt in more than 12 months as play got under way again, with Osman Dimen joining him in the front row.
Costelow kicked the opening points after the break, but Gloucester started to pull away with two tries from wing Tom Stanton and they added another when the forward pack pushed hooker Ethan Hunt over in the right-hand corner, with Barton’s conversion making it 33-10.
Tigers took some consolation with a try for hooker Stevens in the left-hand corner after some strong work and patience in the set-up from the forward pack at a close-range lineout. McPhillips struck his conversion kick well from the left touchline but watched it drift to the right and back off the post.