Newcastle Falcons had to make do with a losing bonus point despite showing plenty of enterprise and no shortage of grit in Sunday’s Aviva Premiership skirmish.
Dean Richards’ men led 10-8 at the midway stage, a sun-baked Kingston Park Stadium treated to a cracker of an opening half as both sides brought an attacking outlook.
The home side enjoyed the better of the early exchanges, flying out of the blocks as hooker Scott Lawson broke down the centre of the field from a Will Welch offload.
The skipper was everywhere, leading from the front, but it was from the backs that the first try came as Sonatane Takulua’s offload found centre Juan Pablo Socino on a hard, straightening line to dot down in front of the South Stand.
Mike Delany slotted the simple conversion, adding a further three on 17 minutes when Simon Hammersley won the kick-tennis exchange and Leicester infringed at a ruck on their own 22.
The visitors repeatedly turned down kicks at goal in favour of line-outs in the corner, a policy which eventually paid dividends on 22 minutes when lock Mike Fitzgerald scored from a blind-side break in the right corner.
Freddie Burns fired wide with the conversion but found his range shortly after with a penalty from in front, the Falcons enjoying a late flurry to the half when Dominic Waldouck had a try turned down for Double movement after Delany’s chip to Socino.
That left the half-time score at 10-8 in the Falcons’ favour, Newcastle starting the second half in encouraging fashion as Vereniki Goneva’s blitz defence forced a Leicester knock-on in prime territory.
Hammersley raced 50 metres down the left on the counter-attack, Waldouck almost creating a try for Ally Hogg as his well-weighted grubber found space down the right tram-lines.
But it was Leicester who nosed ahead on 49 minutes when Burns’ long-range penalty bisected the posts, Goneva almost hitting back before the hour mark when Delany’s diagonal gave the Fijian a sniff of a score.
Joel Hodgson and Michael Young entered the fray for the closing quarter as the Falcons searched for a winner, Young’s chip-and-chase almost putting Goneva in for a try on a supporting line.
The video referee ruled Daniel Temm to have had a foot in touch in the act of scoring on 70 minutes, but Leicester centre Peter Betham was sin-binned for a previous offence as Hodgson chipped three back with a simple penalty.
Newcastle threw everything at it in search of a winner, Will Witty among those to make in-roads, but in the end his side had to content themselves with a hard-earned bonus point as Hodgson's last-minute drop-goal flew wide.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany (Joel Hodgson, 60), 9 Sonatane Takulua (Michael Young, 62); 1 Rob Vickers, 2 Scott Lawson (Ben Sowrey, 72), 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Calum Green, 5 Evan Olmstead (Will Witty, 66), 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Ally Hogg (Daniel Temm, 68).
Falcons scorers - Tries: Juan Pablo Socino. Conversions: Mike Delany. Penalties: Mike Delany, Joel Hodgson.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait (captain), 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Owen Williams (Jack Roberts, 65), 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Ellis Genge, 2 George McGuigan (Tom Youngs, 49), 3 Dan Cole, 4 Mike Fitzgerald (Ed Slater, 72), 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Mike Williams, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 8 Luke Hamilton (Will Evans, 67).
Tigers scorers - Tries: Mike Fitzgerald. Conversions: . Penalties: Freddie Burns 2.
Referee: JP Doyle. Attendance: 6,570.
Hammersley, Goneva, Waldouck, Socino, Sinoti, Delany, Takulua, Vickers, Lawson, Welsh, Green, Olmstead, Wilson, Welch, Hogg
Replacements Sowrey, Rogers, Ryan, Witty, Temm, Young, Hodgson, Agulla
Tait, Veainu, Betham, Williams, Pietersen, Burns, Youngs, Genge, McGuigan, Cole, Fitzgerald, Kitchener, Williams, O'Connor, Hamilton
Replacements Youngs, Mulipola, Bateman, Slater, Evans, Kitto, Roberts, Thompstone
referee: JP Doyle
assistant: Peter Allan
assistant: Jonathan Healy
TMO: Rowan Kitt