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Richard Wigglesworth's Leicester claim Slater Cup

By PA
Ed Slater (left) and Leicester Tigers captain Hanro Liebenberg with the Slater Cup after the Gallagher Premiership match at the Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium, Leicester. Picture date: Saturday December 24, 2022. (Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)

Richard Wigglesworth’s first game in charge of Leicester ended in a convincing 28-13 Gallagher Premiership victory over Gloucester as his side were the inaugural winners of the Slater Cup.

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The match was named in honour of former lock Ed Slater who represented both Leicester and Gloucester in his career.

Slater, 34, was forced to retire in the summer after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease and he was present at Welford Road to present the trophy.

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After last week’s win over Clermont, Wigglesworth ended his playing career to take up the role of interim head coach as Steve Borthwick and Kevin Sinfield departed for England duties and – after a slow start – he will be pleased with a strong second-half performance from his side.

This proved decisive as Gloucester, who had targeted this match in an attempt to cement their top-four placing, wilted tamely.

Anthony Watson scored two tries for Leicester, with Guy Porter also on the try-scoring sheet as Freddie Burns kicked three penalties and two conversions.

Albert Tuisue and Jonny May scored Gloucester’s tries with Adam Hastings adding a penalty.

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Gloucester dominated the early exchanges and were rewarded when Hastings kicked them into an eighth-minute lead.

Leicester Tigers v Gloucester Rugby - Gallagher Premiership - Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium

However they suffered a setback when their Wales international wing Louis Rees-Zammit was forced to leave the field with a leg injury after being forced to hobble for the previous five minutes.

They soon received further blows as Burns kicked two penalties in quick succession to give Tigers a 6-3 lead at the end of a competitive first quarter.

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The first half-hour was featureless as both sides launched the ball skywards at every opportunity so there was little for the crowd to enthuse over.

It therefore came as no surprise that the next points-scoring opportunity came via a shot at goal but Hastings sent his 30-metre kick wide.

Leicester Tigers v Gloucester Rugby - Gallagher Premiership - Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium

The game badly needed a spark and it came after 37 minutes when Jack Van Poortvliet darted away from a maul to send Dan Kelly over but TMO replays showed that Leicester prop Dan Cole had impeded Gloucester number eight Tuisue in the build-up so the try was ruled out.

Just before the interval, Gloucester lost a second back to injury when their full-back Santiago Carreras was led off but with the last move of the half, Tuisue finished off a driving line-out to give them an 8-6 half-time lead.

Leicester Tigers v Gloucester Rugby - Gallagher Premiership - Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium

Four minutes after the restart, Leicester regained the lead thanks to a superb solo try from Porter. Receiving the ball 40 metres out from the line, the centre held off four would-be tacklers to crash over with Burns converting from the touchline.

Gloucester’s injury woes continued when replacement Lloyd Evans left the field for an HIA before Burns extended Leicester’s advantage with his third penalty.

It was now one-way traffic in favour of the hosts and they were rewarded with two run-ins for Watson as Gloucester capitulated in the face of Leicester’s onslaught.

With a minute left on the clock, Gloucester made the final score more respectable with a try from May but it was not enough to stop their opponents moving above them in the league table.

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