Falcons lose out at the death in close Aviva Premiership encounter.
Newcastle Falcons secured an Aviva Premiership Rugby bonus point at Kingston Park on Sunday afternoon after falling to a narrow 12 – 16 defeat to Leicester Tigers.
A Tommy Bell try six minutes from time stole the lead for the visitors for the first time in the game, depriving Dean Richards side a victory in front of 9,017 spectators, the second highest crowd of the season.
The afternoon started as brightly as the sun that shone on the stadium, with the Falcons showing attacking intent from the kick off and into a lead within the opening ten minutes.
Following a probing kick from Tom Catterick, Tigers fullback and former Falcon Mathew Tait had to shepherd the ball into touch to avoid an onrushing Sinoti Sinoti gaining a try.
It was only a temporary reprieve though and from the resulting line-out, a powerful maul was driven towards the Tigers with Scott Lawson the man at the bottom of the pile grounding the ball.
Adding a tricky conversion, a 7 – 0 lead was a good reward for their opening efforts, but was trimmed by three points on the 15 minute mark following a Freddie Burns penalty, after the Falcons were adjudged to have infringed at the scrum.
Looking for a way through to add to their score, the Falcons were looking dangerous, making half breaks and pouncing on loose handling from their visitors and although it was the Tigers who got the next score, with a second penalty on 29 minutes, the hosts were looking good value to extend their advantage.
That score came after a period of play where Fly Half Tom Catterick commanded territory through some excellent kicking from hand and gained field position from a line out which delivered another Falcons try from a flowing, well executed move.
After an initial surge from Alesana Tuilagi gave the Falcons momentum, a floated pass from centre Adam Powell found its target in Sinoti on the wing, who fended off the attentions of two Tigers defenders to get the ball down in the South West corner.
With a narrowly missed conversion, the teams headed for half time with the home side sat on a 12-6 lead, one which they pressed to extend early in the second half.
Gaining a foothold in the visitors 22, a further Falcons score seemed to be only a matter of time away, with Catterick making breaks with some silky running, but solid Tigers defence meant the final killer touch was eluding the Falcons.
This allowed Burns to bring Tigers to within three points as the game entered the final quarter and for Richard Cockerill's side to ultimately seal the win through Bells effort.
It came after Leicester put in a cross field while playing with a penalty advantage which was contested in the air by the Tait brothers.
With neither winning the ball cleanly, it was left to Bell to apply downward pressure to the free ball, with Burns successfully converting from out wide.
With five minutes remaining, a quadruple substitution saw the Falcons look to bring some impact from the bench and get the try that would re-take the lead, however, there would be no last gasp winner and in the end, a disappointed home team had to make do with one point.
Tait, Sinoti, Powell, Socino, Tuilagi, Catterick, Tipuna, Vickers, Lawson, Rogers, Barrow, Thompson, Mayhew, Welch, Wilson
Replacements Hawkins, O'Donnell, Irving, Furno, Saull, Takulua, Cato, Tiesi
Tait, Morris, Goneva, Bai, Thompstone, Burns, Harrison, Ayerza, Youngs, Mulipola, De Chaves, Parling, Croft, Gibson, Pearce
Replacements Ghiraldini, Rizzo, Balmain, Crane, Salvi, Mele, Bell, Roberts
referee: Luke Pearce
assistant: Andrew Jackson
assistant: Roy Maybank
TMO: Trevor Fisher