Gloucester 22-21 Leeds, Aviva Premiership, September 11
Robinson guides Gloucester to win
September 11, 2010
Lesley Vainikolo forces an opening against Leeds
© Getty Images
Fly-half Nicky Robinson helped Gloucester claim their first win of the season as they edged out Leeds Carnegie 22-21 at Kingsholm on Saturday afternoon.
However, it was a far from convincing display by the hosts as Leeds led by two points with a minute to go only to give away a penalty which Wales international Robinson, whose kicking was again horribly inconsistent, thumped through the posts.
It was welcome relief for home head coach Bryan Redpath, who said some stern words during the week after his side's shock 22-10 defeat by debutants Exeter at Sandy Park last week. Redpath made five changes from that side, with flanker Brett Deacon, a summer signing from Leicester, starting his first match.
Meanwhile, Leeds made five changes from the side beaten 32-16 at home on the opening Sunday of the season by Bath. One of those changes, though, was not England star Steve Thompson, who started the match on the bench for a second weekend. Instead, ex-England hooker Andy Titterrell occupied the number two berth to play against one of his old clubs.
Gloucester came out of the blocks firing and, in front of England team manager Martin Johnson, wing Lesley Vainikolo set up the first home try with a dash to within 10 metres of the Leeds line before handing the chance to No.8 Luke Narraway.
The Cherry and Whites went even further ahead when Leeds wing Lee Blackett missed a tackle on Scotland prop Alasdair Dickinson on eight minutes, after the front row forward had taken a pass from a ruck on the 22. Dickinson sprinted past the attempted tackles and found his way to the line. And, with Robinson adding the conversions against two penalty kicks from opposite number Christian Lewis-Pratt, it seemed all was back to normal for Gloucester after their awful start to the new season.
However, despite having the superiority in the pack, the Cherry and Whites lost their way as Leeds rallied. The visitors enjoyed good possession in dangerous areas but could not convert until Lewis-Pratt grabbed a neat pass on the left wing to bypass the home cover and crash over.
Gloucester's Lesley Vainikolo finds a gap in Leeds' defence © Getty Images
His conversion would have levelled matters but he missed and, on the stroke of half-time, big home centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu delivered a third Gloucester try to put them eight points ahead.
Yet, their Achilles heel flared up again as Leeds fought to make significant inroads into the home half before the hour mark. Twice, as at Exeter, Gloucester spurned chances, the clearest of which saw centre Mike Tindall put fullback Charlie Sharples in at the corner only for the ball to be lost.
Leeds then reduced their arrears with Lewis-Pratt's third penalty and, after their pack thwarted another golden Cherry and Whites chance, they raised their game, with Thompson making his presence felt and flanker Hendre Fourie proving a tower of strength.
Lewis-Pratt hit the post with a 35-metre penalty but centre Luther Burrell followed up, stretched high in the air and thundered over, giving his fly-half a simple conversion and, with it, a 21-19 lead.
Gloucester threw the kitchen sink at Leeds but spurned a couple more chances to grab a fourth - and bonus point - try. But they were rescued by Robinson's boot after the Leeds pack, trying to run the clock down, were penalised for a ruck offence to give Gloucester a one-point win.
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