Newcastle Falcons Development Team tasted defeat at Leicester Tigers in the Aviva A League North on Monday night.
The Falcons put in a spirited display in front of a populated Welford Road, but the Tigers proved too strong with five first-half tries doing the damage.
The Falcons took the lead with just three minutes on the clock courtesy of a penalty from fly-half Joel Hodgson. Hodgson was caught with a high shot after the ball had come loose in a rolling maul and the former RGS pupil made no mistake with the penalty.
Leicester immediately responded with a sucker punch try after the Falcons lost the ball with the head at the scrum. The ball came loose and was scooped up by back-row Michael Noone, who raced half the length of the field to touchdown in the corner. Cornwell hooked the conversion wide of the far post but the Tigers led 5-3.
The hosts extended their lead to 12-3 on 13 minutes through a Dan Bowden converted try before the Falcons hit-back with a well-worked try of their own.
Hodgson earned his side good field position after he turned defence into attack, catching the ball under pressure inside his own half before putting a neat dab into the corner, forcing the Tigers defender to hack the ball into touch.
From the resulting line-out the ball was swung wide to Chris Harris who in turn fed Michael Tait with a neat pass and the Scott powered his way to the line. Hodgson added the extras to close the gap to 12-10.
However a minute later the Welford Road outfit restored their advantage with outside centre Adam Thompstone crossing the whitewash. Good yardage from the Tigers pack allowed expansive rugby to be played in the backline with Purdy finishing off a clinical move. Cornwell’s conversion made it 19-10.
Leicester went further ahead on 22 minutes when winger Henry Purdy finished off a sweeping attacking move. Bowden and Thompstone combined well to send Purdy in at the corner. Cornwell, who was in fine fettle with the boot converted to make it 26-10.
On 28 minutes Purdy doubled his tally for the evening in similar fashion to his first score, squeezing in at the corner despite the attention of Tom Catterick. Cornwell was unable to convert and the Tigers had the advantage at 31-10.
Hodgson reduced the arrears to 31-13 thanks to a penalty 35-metres in front of the posts on the stroke of half-time.
Two minutes into the second stanza Thompstone bagged his brace, showing great upper body strength to cross the line. A series of drives from Kieran Brookes and Joe Cain set the platform for the Tigers, before full-back Niall Morris joined the line to present Thompstone with the score. Cornwell converted to extend his side’s lead to 38-13.
Despite the early set-back the northeasterners showed great spirit to conjure up some field position with James Hallam and Scott Wilson carrying the ball well. The Falcons were awarded a penalty for their endeavour and Hodgson nailed his penalty to make it 38-16.
Newcastle grew in confidence and started to play some expansive rugby in the Tigers’ third of the field. After robust carries from Guy van den Dries and Joe Robinson, Hodgson hit a flat pass to Tait who ran a pin-point line before offloading to Johnny Neville. Neville was thwarted inches from the whitewash and despite a string of drives towards the line, Leicester stood firm.
On 62 minutes the Tigers went into a 45-16 lead with a drive over try from Fraser Bailman, converted by Cornwell.
Replacement Zach Kibirige looked bright when he entered the fray and went close to scoring in the closing minutes.
Hodgson hit Neville with a flat pass before drawing his marker to unleash Kibirige to the line, only for the Teeside youngster to be tackled into touch. An over-throw from the resulting line-out was gathered up by George McGuigan and he burrowed his way to the line. Hodgson converted to end the game 45-23.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Henry Purdy, 13 Adam Thompstone, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Matt Cornwell, 9 Scott Steele, 1 Fraser Balmain, 2 George Chuter, 3 Kieran Brookes, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Joe Cain, 6 Brett Deacon, 7 Richard Thorpe, 8 Michael Noone
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Jonny Harris, 18 Ryan Bower, 19 Jake Albon, 20 Luca Guillame, 21 Harrison Lee-Everton, 22 Pasqualle Dunn, 23 Rhys Williams
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Chris Harris, 14 Marakilevu Roko, 13 Michael Tait, 12 Johnny Neville. 11 Tom Catterick, 9 Jonny Burn, 1 James Hallam, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Scott Wilson, 4 Josh Hedley, 5 Joe Robinson, 6 James Hamilton, 7 Anthony Harrison, 8 Guy van den Dries
Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Matthew Lowes, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Tom Schofield, 20 David Watchorn, 21 Andrew Davies, 22 Sam Hanks, 23 Zack Kibirige