Promising signs from Falcons in game two of Kings of the North Cup
Newcastle Falcons' squad depth was tested to the full in a creditable performance at Leicester Tigers, the home side sealing a Kings of the North victory thanks to two unanswered second-half tries.
A combative Falcons XV had put themselves well and truly in the contest with the teams tied 19-19 at half-time, the visitors enjoying territory and possession despite having in excess of 20 players unavailable due to injuries and international calls.
The first of the game's eight tries went the way of a former Newcastle favourite, Mathew Tait scoring in the left corner after Freddie Burns' cross-field kick had forced a defensive scramble from Dean Richards' side.
But the visitors did not let it affect their composure, earning prime field position and playing with patience as flanker Dan Temm caused mayhem in broken field.
It was the Kiwi's run which gave Newcastle a kickable penalty on 17 minutes, the Falcons opting for the attacking line-out and earning their dividend when hooker George McGuigan was driven over a try in the left corner.
Brett Connon slotted the conversion from out wide, the Falcons threatening a second try when Ruki Tipuna's quick tap, Richard Mayhew's burst and quick hands from Tom Penny handed Dan Marshall a foray down the tram-lines.
A ruthless Tigers side made good use of counter-attack ball when a clearance kick was returned 50 yards for a try down the right, Australian international Peter Betham powering over after a swift transfer through the hands.
Again, Newcastle hit back, Craig Willis' line-break and offload handing Temm a try in the right corner. The flanker had plenty to do with a 20-yard foot race to the line, but showed a fine turn of foot to out-run the defence.
The lead was Newcastle's on 38 minutes when Penny and Marshall combined to set up centre-field possession, Willis using it to power over for a try between the posts.
Connon converted for a 19-12 lead, the Tigers drawing level with the final play of the half when George Catchpole exploited a shortage of defensive numbers down the left-hand side.
The scoring was all Leicester's after the interval, the East Midlands outfit running in 17 points without reply.
The first of those came via Burns' boot as the fly-half landed a long-range shot, a deep Tigers bench proving the difference as the Premiership giants rolled on their replacements.
Former Worcester forward Mike Williams emerged from the Leicester dug-out to claim their bonus-point try, blasting his way over down the left.
Burns added the extras, Richards using the remaining half-hour to hand valuable game time to a number of his squad.
Rugby league pair Jason Tali and Ali Blair were handed debuts in the back-line, the former almost scoring in the closing minutes after collecting an offload and turning on the after-burners before being hauled down just short.
Doncaster's Jim Wigglesworth made a try-saving tackle after being loaned to the Falcons, but it was Leicester who registered the final score of the match when replacement hooker Harry Thacker scored from a rolling maul in the right corner.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: B Connon, T Penny, C Harris, A Powell, D Marshall, C Willis, R Tipuna; R Vickers, G McGuigan, S Wilson, C Green, S Robinson, D Temm, W Welch (captain), R Mayhew. Replacements: S Lawson, B Harris, A Foster, S MacLeod, D Fairbrother, C Chick, R Dawson, A Blair, J Tali, J Wigglesworth.
Sin-bin: R Mayhew (70).
Falcons scorers – Tries: G McGuigan, D Temm, C Willis. Conversions: B Connon 2.
LEICESTER TIGERS: M Tait (captain), A Thompstone, P Betham, S Bai, G Catchpole, F Burns, S Harrison; R Brugnara, G Bateman, F Balmain, M Fitzgerald, G Kitchener, T Croft, L McCaffrey, L Pearce. Replacements: H Thacker, T Pasquali, S De Chaves, M Williams, C Loamanu, G Tressider, T Bell, J Farnworth, P Odogwu.
Leicester scorers – Tries: M Tait, P Betham, G Catchpole, M Williams, H Thacker. Conversions: F Burns 3. Penalties: F Burns.
Referee: Ian Tempest. Attendance: 17,794.