Flood strikes late for Leicester
February 15, 2014
Adam Thompstone is sent crashing to earth by Gloucester's Sione Kalamafoni © Getty Images
Toby Flood nailed a penalty three minutes from time as Leicester Tigers overcame Gloucester 11-8 at Welford Road to keep pace with the play-offs.
The first half will not live long in the memory for those who witnessed it, the 40 minutes were limited to just a kick apiece for Toby Flood and Rob Cook. It came into life slightly after the break, with a beautfiul reverse pass from Henry Trinder sending Charlie Sharples over on 50 minutes.
Despite taking the lead Gloucester struggled to get themselves on top and soon their momentum had been suffocated by Leicester, though they saw Flood miss two further penalties from tricky positions. But the fly-half made amends on 67 minutes, setting up Mathew Tait on the back of a patient Leicester move to level proceedings.
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It looked like Leicester were headed for their third draw of the Aviva Premiership season but, with the clock approaching 80 minutes, Gloucester's indiscipline at the scrum - which had struggled from the outset - gave Flood the easiest of kicks from in front of the posts.
George Ford continued to show why there is such clamour to see him in an England shirt as Bath withstood a late Exeter fightback to win a thrilling West Country derby 27-23 at Sandy Park.
Exeter came into the game having not beaten Bath in the league since 1978 and looked up against it in the first half, as a moment of Ford magic allowed Ollie Devoto to scamper home for the opening try of the game on 26 minutes. Bath looked comfortable in possession, but Exeter did not lie down and went in at half-time with the lead, flanker Ben White powering over a minute before the break - with Gareth Steenson's conversion giving them an 11-10 lead.
The visitors came out firing and after 13 minutes had themselves back in front, rugby league convert Kyle Eastmond igniting the burners and storming through a gap to score. Bath then seemed to have sewn up the match, Nick Abendanon scoring a contender for try of the season - splitting the defence with a blistering run down the wing, kicking ahead and then somehow touching down to put Bath 24-16 up with 17 minutes to play.
To their credit, Exeter did not lie down and soon were right back in the game, centre Ian Whitten finding a gap after a patient build up to score under the posts, allowing Steenson to narrow the gap to just one point. It was as close as Exeter would get.
Exeter lost possession at the death and Bath were able to run out the clock as a pair of Ford penalties ensured the visiting's side run of dominance against Exeter continued in thrilling fashion.
Matt Garvey advances for Bath © Getty Images
Shane Geraghty nailed a drop goal seven minutes from time as London Irish all but ended any remaining Aviva Premiership relegation fears with a 23-20 win against London Wasps at Adams Park.
The Exiles started perfectly, and crossed after just three minutes through Ian Humphreys - the fly-half the quickest to react after a Nick Rouse charge-down. It gave Irish a great platform and they extended their advantage further when O'Conner added a penalty shortly after converting Humphreys' try.
On 21 minutes Irish had another, with David Paice dotting down from close range. But Wasps fought back immediately, with the TMO confirming James Short had touched down to narrow the deficit to 17-8 at half-time.
After two more penalties from Wasps' Joe Carlisle, the home side were level at 20-20 with 12 minutes to play. It looked like Irish had thrown away a vital win but Geraghty kept his nerve seven minutes from time to split the posts from open play and earn Brian Smith's men a vital win.
London Irish's Alex Lewington spreads the ball wide to Blair Cowan © Getty Images
Harlequins had to come from behind at the death as they beat Newcastle Falcons 18-14 on Dean Richards' return to Twickenham Scoop for the first time since the 2009 Bloodgate scandal.
Quins took a commanding lead in at the break, with tries from Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Sam Smith putting them 12-3 ahead. But after the restart Newcastle added quickfire penalties from Rory Clegg to bring the game right back to within Newcastle's reach.
With ten minutes to play it was still anyone's game and it looked like Alex Tait had turned the match on its head as he found space to touch down for Newcastle. The Falcons were ahead but Clegg missed the chance to extend their lead further, and Newcastle were made to pay four minutes from time when Ben Botica added the simplest of penalties from in front of the posts.
And Botica sealed the win in injury time as he slotted another penalty to keep Harlequins fourth.
Charlie Matthews advances for Quins © Getty Images
Northampton Saints overcame a spirited Worcester Warriors to cement their place at the top of the league with a 30-14 victory.
The first half was a cagey affair, with neither side able to get much open rugby going. This was reflected in the scoreboard, with Northampton leading 9-3 thanks to three kicks from Stephen Myler to two from Worcester's Chris Pennell.
A penalty try after half-time for Northampton seemed to be the beginning of a familiar story for Worcester, but Worcester responded immediately - David Lemi showing a deft turn of pace to break from inside his own half and touch down, to bring the score to within five points.
But any hope of a miracle fightback were dashed on 52 minutes when Jonathan Thomas was given a straight red for an altercation with Northampton's Sam Dickinson. Even though Dickinson was sin-binned himself, Northampton went over two minutes later - GJ van Velze scoring the first of a pair of tries that took the game away from the league's bottom side.
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