NIGEL Davies was left furious after Leicester Tigers were awarded a controversial match-winning penalty at Welford Road.
The Cherry and Whites’ scrum had been under immense pressure all afternoon in the East Midlands but with the scores tied and just minutes to go referee Dean Richards awarded the hosts a contentious free-kick.
He penalised Dan Robson for a crooked feed into a scrum on the edge of Gloucester’s 22-metre line but replays clearly displayed this was not the case.
With a juggernaut pack dominating the set-piece the Tigers opted for a scrum and bared their teeth.
David Mele amazingly escaped unpunished for a feed that was at an angle and the Gloucester pack crumbled under immense pressure to allow Toby Flood to slot the decisive penalty.
Davies said: “It was the wrong call and ultimately it ended up in three-points. Sometimes they go with you and sometimes they don’t, but that put-in was as straight as you get in the modern game – so it’s frustrating.
“I don’t know why he made that call because when you look at it, it was clearly straight. It was a really harsh call on Dan Robson.
“But the scrum was a huge factor throughout the whole game and if we had parity there we would have won the game.”
Gloucester had several opportunities to score tries before Charlie Sharples crossed the line in the second half.
Davies reckons the Cherry and Whites lack of killer instinct was decisive, with Matt Kvesic and Martyn Thomas squandering first-half opportunities.
But he had no complaints over his sides overall performance following last week’s horror show against Sale Sharks.
For all the intensity, passion and physicality they lacked at the AJ Bell Stadium, they delivered in abundance at Leicester to put some pride back in the Cherry and White jersey despite falling to tenth in the Aviva Premiership table.
They face Harlequins at Kingsholm on Saturday and Davies insists “the benchmark has been set” for that encounter.
He added: “I’m not disappointed with the performance, it was outstanding and I was really pleased with the way our players committed to the cause. But I’m absolutely disappointed with the result.
“When you are under as much pressure as we were at the scrum, for large periods of the game, it’s very difficult, particularly at a place like this.
“But we stayed in the game, played a fluid style of rugby and pressurised them. We got into good positions, pressurised them but had some key scrums, which they won.
“We should have won the game in the first half, we had a few opportunities where we pressurised them and if we had been a little bit more clinical maybe things would have been different.
“But that was the benchmark for how we need to perform. We can take a lot of confidence from it.
“To come to Welford Road and win you really have to be on top of your game and the players were great in terms of intensity and commitment they brought, but the result was the wrong side of what our performance would suggest.
“Harlequins are a competent side, who play rugby so it will be an attractive game.
“We won’t come up against a scrum that strong again this season and in the last few weeks we’ve been solid there.”