Red cards for Koree Britton and old boy Ryan Lamb dominate Gloucester United's six-try defeat at Leicester Tigers
LEICESTER TIGERS A 38 GLOUCESTER UNITED 16
KOREE Britton and Gloucester old boy Ryan Lamb were sent of for fighting in an ill-tempered A League clash at Welford Road.
The potent hosts triumphed six tries to one in a classic example of East Midlands muscle-flexing.
But the ugly brawl that ended the night early for Britton and Lamb marred the contest.
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Both players will face a mandatory RFU disciplinary hearing, likely to be later this week.
Gloucester can ill afford to lose another front-rower, and Britton had entered this clash at loosehead prop in part makeshift needs-must and part experiment.
The England Under-20s graduate hooker could now face a ban of his own.
Nick Wood is still banned for six more weeks, Dan Murphy suffered knee trouble at Newcastle on Sunday and academy prop James Gibbons is still two weeks from fitness.
Adding Britton to that list would only exacerbate the shortage still further, leaving rugby director Nigel Davies with some big headaches.
There can be little doubt he would dip into the transfer market for an injury dispensation signing should Britton receive a ban and Murphy’s knee trouble prove anything more than a niggle.
Leicester took control through first-half tries from Miles Benjamin, Henry Purdy and George Catchpole, with Jonny Bentley landing two penalties in reply for the visitors.
Britton and Lamb were given their marching orders shortly after the restart.
Despite a third Bentley penalty, Leicester quickly wrestled total control.
Sam Steele crossed, before Lua Lokotui was sin-binned, allowing Leicester to drive home their scrum dominance for a penalty try.
Gareth Evans’ break set Steph Reynolds home for Gloucester’s sole try of the night, before Leicester’s Michael Noone completed proceedings.
The old-boy effect paid immediate dividend for Lamb, who drifted to the line and delayed his pass long enough to create the space for Benjamin to glide under the posts off his wing.
Leicester quickly doubled their try tally through wing Purdy, who profited from Tim Molenaar’s clearance being charged down in the Gloucester 22.
Molenaar had been robbed in the tackle by opposite number George Catchpole moments earlier, and his blocked clearance compounded a galling sequence.
Gloucester rightly won a penalty when Benjamin and De Chaves killed the ball, after a bullocking carry from Britton.
Bentley summed up Gloucester’s ambition by punting to the corner, but Leicester sacked the attempted maul at source, forcing a knock-on.
Midfield offside allowed Gloucester to trouble the scorers, with Bentley landing a tricky penalty.
A robust double-tackle by Knoyle and Reynolds on Catchpole then handed Bentley a second goal.
Mills stole the ball after Gloucester rucked the Tigers off the ball, exposing Catchpole.
Knoyle’s quick-tap penalty and pass sent the onrushing Thomas up to the gain line, only for him to be poleaxed around the neck.
Bentley booted the easy three points, to leave Gloucester trailing 12-6.
Sloppy restart receipt and ball protection left Knoyle shovelling the pressure along to Bentley next, who had no chance of clearing, suffering ball plus three tacklers – on his own tryline.
The Kiwi out-half was duly wrestled to the ground for a five-metre attacking Leicester scrum, only for a knock-on let the visitors off the hook.
A reasonable scrum allowed Mills to send Thomas through the line.
The full-back raced into the Tigers 22, but the Leicester defence held its shape, so despite him feeding Cheshire, the pacy wing had precious little space in which to operate, and was hauled into touch.
Purdy’s outside-arc break through the 13 channel after a quick lineout from Lamb had Leicester back in the ascendancy.
But it was Catchpole who profited from the tap penalty deep in the Gloucester 22, sauntering the two yards home, for Lamb to convert.
Gloucester tried a penalty lineout in the Tigers 22 for the second time in the match next, but again to no avail.
Several scuffles delayed a late first-half scrum, and as the teams headed for the tunnel at the break more fists flew.
Nothing serious, after the pointless shirt-pulling and posturing, the players headed into the changing rooms, with Leicester leading 19-6.
The niggle boiled over after the restart though, when Britton and Lamb continued to trade blows well after the fact.
Dismissed for their actions, both seemed almost nonplussed trudging off the field – but neither can truck any argument.
The incident ended with a Gloucester penalty, and Bentley nudging his third goal.
Tigers scrum-half Steele tapped a penalty to sneak home for his side’s bonus-point try though, and restore home authority.
Lokotui’s mindless yellow card for one of the most blatant pieces of attacking a ruck on the wrong side then left Gloucester denuded in the extreme.
Sam Preece had to take the field for the scrum, with Gloucester two forwards down.
A proud moment for the Old Centralian no doubt, but there was little he could do to stop the Tigers scrum winning the near-inevitable penalty try.
The Gloucester 13 then scored the visiting side’s first try of the night, a shrewd tap-penalty break from replacement Gareth Evans setting Reynolds free for a good finish.
Gloucester’s scrum simply could not compete by this point, and Leicester drove the visitors off the ball on their own line.
Steele stole the ball and dived for the line but was held up.
From the resulting scrum the home side had no such trouble though, with Noone powering across for try number six, Steele slotting a perfect touchline conversion.
Lloyd Evans’ smart chip nearly set Matt Cox home after a powerful Molenaar break, but the bounce just evaded Gloucester’s blindside flanker.
Sharp full-back Evans then made a line-break on the counter after a quick lineout.
LEICESTER: P Humphreys, H Purdy, G Catchpole (G Tressider, 71), T Hepetema (J Pohe, 54), M Benjamin, R Lamb, S Steele, J Schuster (H Thacker, 41), G Chuter (capt) (T Bristow, 55), F Balmain (T Pasquali, 50), J Cain, S De Chaves (T Price, 54), H Wells, M Noone, T Waldrom (W Owen, 41). Replacements:, P Dunn.
GLOUCESTER: M Thomas (L Evans, 41), S Reynolds, T Molenaar, R Mills, D Cheshire, J Bentley (B Burns, 50), T Knoyle (R Boughton, 56), K Britton, H Edmonds (R Charles, 52), T Heard (R Jones, 65), T Hicks, L Lokotui, M Cox, S Underhill (J Kitson, 29 [S Preece, 59]), L Ludlow (G Evans, 45).
LEICESTER: Lamb (44)
GLOUCESTER: Britton (44)
GLOUCESTER: Lokotui (54)
LEICESTER: Tries: Benjamin (5), Purdy (10), Catchpole (38), Steele (49), Penalty (57), Noone (68) Cons: Lamb (5, 38), Steele (57, 68)
GLOUCESTER: Tries: Reynolds (59) Cons: B Burns (59) Pens: Bentley (19, 23, 45)