Newcastle Falcons’ European Challenge Cup campaign ended at the quarter-final stage on Saturday when Leicester Tigers secured safe passage through to the last four of the competition.
Dean Richards’ men trailed 15-8 at the break and were unable to turn the tide thereafter – Tom Penny and George Wacokecoke scoring their tries.
The visitors had found themselves five points down after as many minutes when Harry Potter dotted down in the right corner, chasing a kick in behind as Newcastle’s solid maul defence forced Tigers to go through the backs.
Brett Connon responded almost straightaway with a simple penalty from 15 metres out when a period of Falcons pressure in the Leicester 22 saw the home side infringing, but Leicester’s mauling game earned them a penalty try on 14 minutes when Mark Wilson was sin-binned for collapsing.
Johnny McPhillips extended their lead to 12 points with a simple penalty from a defensive offside - Newcastle’s maul defence repelling yet another Leicester attack inside their own 22.
The Falcons finally registered their first try of the game on 33 minutes when Tom Penny’s counter-attack set in motion a score from George Wacokecoke in the left corner – a flowing passage of play seeing offloads from Michael Young and Matias Orlando to create the opportunity.
The visitors ended the half with 14 men when Kyle Cooper was sin-binned from a collapsed scrum, Leicester leading 15-8 at the interval.
A hectic start to the second half saw a quick hit from either side, Leicester exploiting the extra man down the left for Matias Moroni to score as they worked a penalty advantage to good effect.
McPhillips added the conversion, but Newcastle responded almost instantly when Tom Penny, on his 50th appearance for the club, collected an inside pass from Ben Stevenson to score in the left corner.
Connon slotted the touchline conversion to close the gap to seven, but Tigers led by 10 on the hour mark when a scrum penalty on the visitors’ 22 enabled replacement George Ford to slot a simple three.
The hosts sniffed further gains when they kicked a penalty to the left corner, only to lose the resulting line-out, and Newcastle found some late energy through Gary Graham’s confrontational ball-carrying.
The Scot was equally effective in defence as he win a 60-metre foot race against winger Kini Murimurivalu to prevent a Tigers try from a kick ahead, but with Tampin and Cooper both sent from the field Leicester scored a second penalty try, this time from a five-metre scrum.
Harry Potter scored his second try with the final play of the same, sealing safe passage to the semi-finals.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny (Joel Matavesi, 50), 14 George Wacokecoke (Cooper Vuna, 47), 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (Louis Schreuder, 59); 1 Trevor Davison (Kyle Cooper, 12, Mark Tampin, 35), 2 George McGuigan, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Will Welch (Gary Graham, 54), 7 Mark Wilson (captain), 8 Callum Chick.
Scorers – Tries: George Wacokecoke, Tom Penny. Conversions: Brett Connon. Penalties: Brett Connon.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Matt Scott (Dan Kelly, 61), 11 Kini Murimurivalu, 10 Johnny McPhillips (George Ford, 51), 9 Richard Wigglesworth (captain, Jack van Poortvliet, 51)), 1 Luan de Bruin (Ellis Genge, 53), 2 Charlie Clare (Tom Youngs, 60), 3 Joe Heyes (Dan Cole, 50), 4 Harry Wells (Tomas Lavanini, 70), 5 Cameron Henderson, 6 George Martin, 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Hanro Liebenberg Jasper Wiese, 27).
Scorers – Tries: Harry Potter 2, Penalty try 2, Matias Moroni. Conversions: Johnny McPhillips, George Ford. Penalties: Johnny McPhillips, George Ford.
Referee: Roman Poite (France).