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Premiership: Leicester Tigers 25-27 Gloucester - Stephen Varney seals stunning win for Cherry and Whites

Stephen Varney runs away to score Gloucester's winning try against Leicester
Stephen Varney returned to action for Gloucester after Six Nations duties with Italy

Gallagher Premiership

Leicester: (8) 25

Tries: Reffell, Kata, Wiese, Shillcock; Pens: Shillcock; Cons: Shillcock.

Gloucester: (17) 27

Tries: Mercer, Harris, Varney; Pens: Carreras 2; Cons: Carreras 3.

Stephen Varney scored a late try to help Gloucester snatch a stunning first Premiership win at Leicester Tigers for more than 16 years.

Zach Mercer and Chris Harris tries helped put Gloucester 17-8 up at half-time, with Tommy Reffell hitting back with Tigers' try just before the break.

Further scores from Solomone Kata, Jasper Wiese and Jamie Shillcock edged Tigers ahead late on.

Varney's winning try, however, stopped Tigers from moving up to second.

A bonus-point victory would have catapulted Tigers up the table ahead of the remaining weekend fixtures, but defeat saw them slip a place to seventh with five regular-season games left after Bristol beat leaders Northampton in the other Friday night game.

For second-from-bottom Gloucester, it was a remarkable second victory in seven days against Tigers, after beating the East Midlands club in the Premiership Rugby Cup final.

It also earned them a second piece of silverware, as they won the Slater Cup - named after ex-Tigers and Gloucester captain Ed Slater, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2022 - for the first time.

The former lock was at Mattioli Woods Welford Road with his family, and it was his children who brought the cup onto the field before the match to a thunderous ovation.

Van Poortvliet returns for much-changed Tigers

Tigers made a number of changes to the side beaten by the Cherry and Whites a week earlier, with England internationals Ollie Chessum, Dan Cole and Freddie Steward, as well as Wales' Reffell all coming into the side after the Six Nations.

There was also a eagerly anticipated return to action for England scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet after an eight-month injury lay-off.

Leicester, however, were also forced to make a late change with two-time World-Cup winning fly-half Handre Pollard ruled out through illness.

Shillcock came in for the South African and booted the first points of the game after a tense opening 22 minutes.

Mercer, the Gloucester number eight who said he was "done" with the England team after being overlooked for the Six Nations, then sparked the Cherry and Whites to life after powering over the line to finish a wonderful move instigated by Seb Blake.

Santiago Carreras added the extras, then landed a penalty, before replacement centre Harris burst through a gap to add a second Gloucester try to stun the hosts.

Reffell crashed over for Leicester's response from a rolling maul in the final seconds of the first half, and the second period started with Kata doing the same to cut the gap to four points.

And after Carreras landed a second Gloucester penalty, Wiese's try for Leicester gave the hosts the chance to level after 56 minutes, but Shillcock could only hit the post with his conversion.

Shillcock eventually went on to edge Tigers ahead with a try, but his failure to again land the extras proved costly.

While Leicester managed to hold Gloucester up over the line in the final minutes, another devastating break by Blake and offload to Varney for the late try left it to Carreras to win it with a conversion.

'We need a hard look in the mirror' - reaction

Leicester Tigers head coach Dan McKellar told BBC Radio Leicester:

"They [players] are incredibly disappointed, everyone is - we don't like losing at home and that is the reality.

"The core of our game is around our defence and set-piece. The set-piece, I thought, was excellent but defensively it was disappointing.

"We are trying to grow and evolve other areas of our game, but I don't think that hurt us necessarily tonight, it's just they played well and they took their chances.

"They were that little more desperate, which is why we need to have a good hard look in the mirror."

Gloucester head coach George Skivington told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:

"We needed that Slater Cup. We have played four of those fixtures now and we were desperate to get our hands on it.

"The boys, like last week, had them under a lot of pressure in the first half. We were a little bit inaccurate and forced our hand with a few offloads, and Leicester are very good at pouncing on those crumbs.

"We probably kept them in the game a little bit.

"I thought the boys, in the second half, were brave and they backed themselves. When things go wrong they get back on track and I think, overall, we deserved that tonight."

Leicester Tigers: Steward; Bassett, Kelly, Kata, Hassell-Collins; Shillcock, B Youngs; Cronin, Montoya, Cole; Wells, O Chessum, Liebenberg, Reffell, Wiese.

Replacements: Theobald-Thomas, Whitcombe, Heyes, Hatherell, Cracknell, Van Poortvliet, Wilkinson, Cokanasiga.

Gloucester: Evans; May, Llewellyn, S Atkinson, Hathaway; Carreras, S Varney; Vivas, Blake, Gotovtsev' Clarke, Jordan, Ackermann, Clement, Mercer.

Replacements: McBurney, Elrington, Ford-Robinson, Clark, Thomas, Tuisue, Chapman, Harris.

Referee: Matthew Carley.