Leicester 49 Falcons 33

Saturday 08 September 2018 Written by: Adam

The Falcons fell behind after just two minutes, Will Spencer’s line-break and a couple of close-range rucks seeing the ball spun left, from where George Ford reached out an arm from the tackle to score.

The England fly-half hit the post with his attempted conversion, opposite number Toby Flood also firing wide with his first pop at goal when the Falcons were handed a penalty from 38 metres out for a no-arms tackle.

Ford found his range with an eighth-minute penalty from right of centre when the Falcons pulled down a Tigers maul, and it got worse for Newcastle when a midfield interception by Brendon O’Connor and the support of Jonny May saw the England wing scooting in for a converted try.

The points kept coming at a rate of more than one a minute when winger Adam Thmpstone grounded in the right corner, Leicester’s forward carriers sucking numbers infield and then exploiting the space with ruthless efficiency.

Ford’s conversion extended the home side’s lead to 22-0, but the Falcons finally came to life on 17 minutes when a period of continuity got them from half-way to the Leicester 22, from where Sinoti Sinoti launched a scything line-break, getting to within a metre of the Tigers line before offloading impressively to the supporting Sonatane Takulua.

Toby Flood converted from in front, Leicester responding almost instantly when Ford sent over a penalty from a central position following a high tackle on the ducking Kyle Eastmond, the home side chalking up the four-try bonus point on 24 minutes when Manu Tuilagi sped home from half-way.

Newcastle kept on fighting, earning their reward before the half-hour when Vereniki Goneva scored in the right corner from a flowing passage of play which included runs from Sami Mavinga and George McGuigan.

Flood converted impressively from the right touchline, Ford replying with his third penalty, but it was Newcastle who pounced for the next try when a penalty was kicked into touch, Newcastle spreading the play from a line-out in the left corner to enable Goneva to cross for his second try in the right corner.

Leicester had the last say of the half when a line-out in the right corner was worked to the opposite side for Jonny May to touch down, Ford’s missed conversion attempt leaving the interval scoreline at 40-19 in favour of the home side.

Newcastle emerged the brighter of the two teams in the early exchanges of the second half, rewarded for a period of pressure in the Tigers’ 22 by a series of penalties, the third of which saw Mark Wilson scoring the bonus-point try when the England flanker broke through a maul in the left corner.

Flood converted from out wide to reduce the deficit to 14, Ford’s fourth penalty helping ease the home nerves as the fly-half punished Newcastle for an offside offence 30 metres out.

The Falcons, however, just would not lie down, and registered their fifth try on 55 minutes when a penalty was kicked to the corner, the resulting lineout setting up the close-range ruck from which Sami Mavinga burrowed over.

Flood converted brilliantly from the right touchline, Ford responding with his fifth penalty of the afternoon, the home side finding themselves reduced to 14 men when Telusa Veainu was sin-binned for an offside tackle on Takulua.

Newcastle were unable to capitalise on the extra man during a score-less ten-minute period of play which saw Fiji lock Tevita Cavubati winning a midfield jackal turnover, Leicester holding out for the full five points with Ford hitting a penalty at the death.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood (Joel Hodgson, 65), 9 Sonatane Takulua; 1 Sami Mavinga (Adam Brocklebank, 65), 2 George McGuigan (Santiago Socino, 65), 3 Logovi’i Mulipola (Jack Payne, 65), 4 Calum Green (Tevita Cavubati, 65), 5 Will Witty, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Callum Chick (Gary Graham, 47).

**Falcons scorers -** Tries: Sonatane Takulua, Vereniki Goneva 2, Mark Wilson, Sami Mavinga. Conversions: Toby Flood 4.

**Leicester Tigers:** 15 Telusa Veainu (Jordan Olowofela, 72), 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Kyle Eastmond (Tom Hardwick, 31), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs (Sam Harrison, 70); 1 Greg Bateman (Campese Ma’afu, 64), 2 Tom Youngs (captain, Jimmy Stevens, 62), 3 Dan Cole (David Feao, 64), 4 Mike Williams, 5 Will Spencer (Harry Wells, 65), 6 David Denton, 7 Brendon O’Connor (Guy Thompson, 38), 8 Sione Kalamafoni.

**Tigers scorers -** Tries: George Ford, Jonny May 2, Adam Thompstone, Manu Tuilagi. Conversions: George Ford 3. Penalties: George Ford 6.

**Referee:** Matthew Carley. **Attendance:** 20,045.