Leicester Tigers 42 Falcons 28

Friday 26 August 2022 Written by: Adam

Having a player red-carded after 20 minutes and trailing 21-7 at the break, they battled back in the closing 40 but will travel to Doncaster next Friday still in search of their first win of the season.

A cagey start saw both teams applying boot to ball, but the Falcons’ task was made more difficult just three minutes in when debutant Vereimi Qorowale was sin-binned for tackling a player in the air in pursuit of a high ball.

Leicester took advantage with the game’s opening try on six minutes, winger Harry Potter collecting a kick in the left corner before Freddie Burns added the touchline conversion.

A try-saving tackle from Ben Stevenson prevented the hosts from doubling their lead when Chris Ashton attacked to the right corner, and superb maul defence thwarted the champions on 20 minutes when they kicked a penalty to the left corner without return.

Qorowale and Newcastle’s night got worse when the debutant received a second yellow card on the quarter mark, which therefore became a red, following a try-saving challenge near his own line.

Tigers took full advantage, Potter grounding a second try down the left from another Burns cross-field kick – the fly-half again adding the extras.

The Falcons rebounded and enjoyed a spell of pressure in the home 22 where they earned repeated penalties – Leicester’s set-piece defence saving the day as they snatched the throw on two occasions to clear downfield.

The visitors finally got themselves on the scoreboard just after the half-hour mark when Gary Graham collected an offload five metres out, finishing off a move he had started some ten phases earlier with a big midfield line-break.

Brett Connon converted from in front of the posts to halve the deficit to 14-7, but Leicester restored their two-try buffer when hooker Charlie Clare scored from a driving maul in the left corner.

Burns’ third conversion took Tigers’ half-time lead to 21-7, and it took them eight minutes of the second half to add to their tally when Potter exploited numbers out wide to complete his hat-trick with a converted try down the left.

The Falcons responded on the hour mark with a well-taken second try, England Under-20s wing Iwan Stephens the scorer as he collected a cross-field grubber from debutant fly-half Josh Thomas to score in the left corner.

Thomas added the touchline conversion to reduce the arrears to 14, and a rejuvenated Falcons side weren’t done there.

Radwan went close with a chip-and-chase down the right, supported by Stephens, and from the resulting penalty George McGuigan was held up over the try-line.

The goal-line drop-out provided no reprieve for Tigers, with Newcastle running it back 50 metres for a sensational try – Radwan scoring in the right corner after a textbook two-on-one from Stephens.

Thomas again slotted the touchline conversion to reduce Leicester’s advantage to seven going into the final ten minutes, but their champion class shone through with an instant response when hooker Joe Taufete’e scored from a close-range pick and go, converted by Jimmy Gopperth.

The visitors weren’t lying down, however, and registered their fourth try in the dying stages when Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti sniped from the base 25 metres out and accelerated powerfully to the try-line, Josh Thomas adding the extras.

The home side had the last say when No.8 Sean Jansen scored from a maul in the right corner – Gopperth adding the conversion from wide out on the right with the final kick.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Alex Tait, 14 Vereimi Qorowale, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Zach Kerr, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young; 1 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Charlie Maddison, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Sebastian de Chaves, 5 Josh Peters, 6 Gary Graham, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Tom Marshall.

**Replacements:** 1 Phil Brantingham, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Conor Kenny, 4 Matthew Dalton, 4 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Matt Deehan, 7 Marcus Tiffen, 8 Carl Fearns, 9 Josh Barton, 9 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 10 Josh Thomas, 11 Nathan Earle, 12 Ewan Greenlaw, 13 George Wacokecoke, 14 Adam Radwan, 15 Iwan Stephens.

**Scorers -** Tries: Gary Graham, Iwan Stephens, Adam Radwan, Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti. Conversions: Brett Connon, Josh Thomas 3.

**Leicester Tigers:** 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Harry Potter, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 James Cronin, 2 Charlie Clare, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Eli Snyman, 6 George Martin, 7 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 8 Sean Jansen.

**Replacements:** Tom Horton, Joe Taufete’e, James Whitcombe, Francois van Wyk, Will Hurd, Nephi Leatigaga, Finn Carnduff, Lewis Chessum, Cameron Henderson; Sam Edwards, Richard Wigglesworth, Bryce Hegarty, Phil Cokanasiga, Kini Murimurivalu, Nemani Nadolo, Hosea Saumaki, Jed Walsh.

**Scorers -** Tries: Harry Potter 3, Charlie Clare, Joe Taufete’e, Sean Jansen. Conversions: Freddie Burns 4, Jimmy Gopperth 2.

**Referee:** Hamish Smales.