|Gloucester (12) 26|
|Tries: Balmain, Ackermann, Atkinson, Clement Cons: Evans 2, Hastings|
|Leicester (18) 33|
|Tries: Wells, Genge, Potter, Dolly Cons: Ford 2 Pens: Ford 3|
Leicester Tigers held off a Gloucester fightback to continue their unbeaten start to the Premiership season.
Harry Wells and Ellis Genge gave Tigers an early lead but Gloucester hit back through Fraser Balmain and Ruan Ackermann in a thrilling first half.
Harry Potter extended the visitors’ lead to 25-12, before Mark Atkinson pegged them back once again.
Nic Dolly earned the Tigers a four-try bonus point and they held on to win despite a debut try from Jack Clement.
Leicester, who improved last season to finish sixth and reach the European Challenge Cup final after successive 11th-placed finishes, have now picked up a maximum 10 points from their opening two games after beating last season’s beaten Premiership finalists Exeter Chiefs last week.
And they seized on an ill-disciplined start by the home side, which saw them give away three penalties within the first five minutes, to take the lead with two George Ford penalties which would prove decisive in separating the sides at half-time.
Jack van Poortvliet – starting at scrum-half ahead of England’s Ben Youngs – was influential in Leicester’s first two tries. The 20-year-old got in around the back of the Gloucester defence, before the ball was bundled over at close range by Wells for the first.
Former Tiger Fraser Balmain put Gloucester on the scoreboard five minutes later. But when Gloucester full-back Kyle Moyle was sent to the sin-bin, Dan Cole quickly piled over only to see his effort ruled out for being held up.
The Tigers continued to pile on the pressure and when Gloucester were penalised for not releasing at the breakdown, Ford took a quick tap and go and passed to Van Poortvliet who put in captain Genge to score.
Still, the points continued to swing back and forth as Ackermann scored Gloucester’s second try before half-time, after the ball was passed wide across midfield from a line out.
Potter scored the match’s stand-out try after 53 minutes to extend Leicester’s lead, making a break inside the Gloucester half, winding through their defence and bouncing through an attempted tackle.
But again the hosts clawed their way back as Atkinson, making his first start this season after being called up to England’s forthcoming training camp by the watching Eddie Jones, dummied and ducked over.
Dolly scored Leicester’s fourth try to seemingly seal victory and ensure they left with a bonus point too. Yet momentum swung back in the hosts’ favour when Leicester’s Ollie Chessum was yellow carded inside the final 10 minutes.
Substitute Clement scored his first Premiership try to close the gap to 33-26, but Leicester’s defence held on to ensure the victory.
Gloucester head coach George Skivington told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:
“The boys are gutted, I think they probably felt we put ourselves in a position where we could have won the game. But again there was a couple of penalties early on that probably set us on the back foot and then we were chasing our tail a little bit from then on.
“It’s a mixed bag. Lots of stuff we wanted to come off, came off. I thought the physicality, the work rate, all the bits we pride ourselves on were brilliant.
“Little bit of execution probably could have been better and we probably could have managed, there was a period in the second half we had a lot of pressure and I think we could have manged it slightly better.
“That was probably our moment really to get a try, we’d scored one and we could have scored another and built on that, but we didn’t, we got turned over five metres out and that was the end of that.”
Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick told BBC Radio Leicester:
“Pleased with the win and I think there’s plenty to be proud of in terms of the attitude and the fight that the players had. Plenty of mistakes were made as well which is disappointing, but in the sense we’ve got plenty to learn and improve upon.
“We talk about the foundations for us going forward and I think having the players fight as hard as they did, that gives us a very, very strong foundation to build upon. What we want to do is not put ourselves in those situations, but we did tonight. We came through it, but we’ve got to learn from it.
“I think the first half the players identified the space really well. Second half, we didn’t get the ball as much as we wanted to in the opposition half and that’s credit to the opposition.
“I thought Gloucester played really well tonight. I thought they played really smart rugby, in that second half they kept turning us and certainly came with a big challenge in the forwards.”
Gloucester: Moyle; Seabrook, Twelvetrees, Atkinson, Thorley; Evans, Meehan; Elrington, Singleton, Balmain, Slater, Davidson, Morgan, Ludlow (c), Ackermann.
Replacements: Walker, Ford-Robinson, Gotovtsev, Clarke, Conradie, Clement, Varney, Hastings.
Sin-bin: Moyle (23)
Leicester Tigers: Steward; Potter, Scott, Kelly, Nadolo; Ford, Van Poortvliet; Genge (c), Dolly, Cole, Wells, Snyman, Martin, Reffell, Liebenberg.
Replacements: T Cowan-Dickie, Van Wyk, Heyes, Green, Chessum, B Youngs, Burns, Porter.
Sin-bin: Chessum (72)
Referee: Tom Foley (RFU).