A brave Newcastle Falcons outfit succumbed to defeat against Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday afternoon.
Leicester, with their big guns back in the mix looked like a side determined to put their 27-20 defeat at Bath Rugby last week well and truly behind them.
Running in five tries to secure the bonus point win, the likes of Manu Tuilagi, Toby Flood and Ben Youngs were in fine fettle for the hosts. Newcastle themselves will perhaps feel aggrieved that they did not cross the whitewash late on after sustained pressure on Tigers’ line, but Dean Richards’ men can now look forward to next weekend’s humdinger at home to Gloucester Rugby with many positives to draw from their Welford Road experience.
Leicester began the game at a frantic pace and were relentless in attack from the word go with former Falcon Flood turning down two shots at goal in favour of the kick into the corner.
And despite a mammoth defensive effort in the early exchanges, Newcastle buckled under the pressure with Jordan Crane escaping the attention of Mark Wilson to squeeze in at the corner. Flood failed to convert and the hosts led 5-0.
With a quarter-of-an hour on the clock, Richards’ men found themselves further behind when Graham Kitchener went in under the posts from a pick and drive. Tuilagi was the catalyst, shrugging off a series of tacklers before being halted just short of the line. Flood’s simple conversion extended Tigers’ advantage to 12-0.
Midway inside the first-half the Falcons seemed to be getting a foothold of the contest with Alex Tait making a clean break after taking a high bomb under immense pressure from Vereniki Goneva. Warren Fury skipped clear from the breakdown before feeding the onrushing Chris York, but the move came to nothing and Leicester managed to turn the ball over.
The Falcons got just reward for their attacking endeavour when Rory Clegg slotted home a penalty from 25 metres out following excellent work from the pack. Dominating the rolling maul, referee David Rose awarded the penalty to the Falcons to give them a welcome reprieve.
Eight minutes from the break the northeasterners closed the gap to 12-6 thanks to a drop-goal from Clegg. Dom Barrow provided the platform with a rampaging run through the heart of the Tigers’ defensive line before being thwarted 10 metres out. Clegg took up the perfect position to kick the three points.
Leicester responded immediately from the restart, ploughing their way up field with a series of carries. With a two man overlap, Flood spun the ball wide to full-back Blaine Scully for an easy run to the line. Flood was unable to add the extras from out wide and the Falcons trailed 17-6 at the break.
Newcastle made a bright start to the second period, but were dealt a blow when Tigers centre Dan Bowden waltzed in under the posts to give his side the bonus point. Clinical play in the Leicester backline ensured the score and Flood landed the conversion to make it 24-6. The Falcons’ task was made more difficult with Kieran Brookes shown his marching orders for 10 minutes for an altercation in the build-up to the try.
10 minutes from time Leicester added more gloss to the score line with a try from a driving lineout, Owen Williams took over the kicking duties to convert to put the home side in the ascendancy at 31-6.
The visitors went close to breaching Leicester’s rear-guard in the closing minutes with the likes of Ally Hogg, Scott Wilson and Sean Tomes providing good field position for the backs. Replacement centre Alex Crockett very nearly latched onto Clegg’s neat dab into the in goal area, but Tuilagi managed to palm it dead and concede the penalty. From the subsequent penalty, the Falcons failed to capitalise and Leicester cleared their lines.
Newcastle had one more chance to touchdown but Joel Hodgson’s floated pass to Noah Cato was deliberately knocked on by Adam Thompstone. Thompstone, without provocation strolled off the park after being shown the yellow card.
That would be the last act of the game and Mr Rose blew up for full-time with Leicester triumphing 31-6.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Blaine Scully, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 1 Boris Stankovich, 2 Neil Briggs, 3 Logovi’I Munipola, 4 Ed Slater, 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Jamie Gibson, 8 Jordan Crane
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Julian Salvi, 21 David Mele, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Niall Morris
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Adam Powell, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Warren Fury, 1 Franck Montanella, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Kieran Brookes, 4 Carlo del Fava, 5 Dominic Barrow, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Chris York
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Gary Strain, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Sean Tomes, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Alex Crockett