Match Report

Leicester Tigers - 47

Newcastle Falcons - 3

Sunday 03rd Dec 2023 | KO 15:00 | Mattioli Woods Welford Road

Newcastle Falcons’ wait for a first win of the Gallagher Premiership season continues following Sunday’s defeat at a rainswept Mattioli Woods Welford Road, where Leicester Tigers took the full five points.

The visitors grabbed the first points of the day but trailed 26-3 at half-time, Leicester wrapping up the bonus point before the interval as their forward power told.

A strong start saw the Falcons camping themselves in the home half during the opening ten minutes, earning repeated red-zone penalties which they eventually turned into a three-point lead when Brett Connon slotted from in front of the posts.

The fly-half was a late addition to the side with fellow Cumbrian Louie Johnson having pulled out through injury during the warm-up, and he made no mistake from the tee.

But his side trailed two minutes later when Leicester’s first entry into the Newcastle half saw them scoring from a driving maul in the right corner – Welsh open-side Tommy Reffell the man to dot down.

South African World Cup winner Handre Pollard slotted the touchline conversion, with the rain making handling conditions difficult for both sides.

Newcastle kicked a penalty to the corner without return around the half-hour as Leicester bundled their maul into touch, and the home side went up the other end to double their lead when Scottish centre Matt Scott hit a hard line off the back of a maul in the left corner to power over.

Pollard again added the extras, and his side’s third try arrived four minutes later when another wave of Tigers pressure ended with Reffell scoring his second down the left-hand side.

This time the conversion was off-target, but Pollard regained his range with the final kick of the half after countryman Jasper Wiese pounced on a loose ball to score the bonus-point try.

That left Leicester 26-3 up at the interval, with an injury to Louis Brown forcing a back-line reshuffle for the Falcons as Rory Jennings came on from the bench, Tom Penny moved to full-back and Elliott Obatoyinbo switched to the wing.

Leicester’s scoring pattern resumed on 53 minutes when Reffell completed his hat-trick with a try from the back of a maul in the right corner, both sides rolling on their replacements with the result seemingly decided.

Newcastle kept plugging away and earned a penalty through scrum dominance which was kicked to the corner, and even when the lineout did not yield a try they chanced their arm with a cross-field kick to Adam Radwan.

The winger was bundled into touch a metre out as Leicester’s line held firm, and the Falcons’ cause was further hampered when Pedro Rubiolo was sin-binned for a high tackle.

Tigers made the extra man count almost straightaway, winger Ollie Hassell-Collins scooping a ball off his laces to score down the left after a maul was worked to the blind-side.

Jamie Shillcock struck over the touchline conversion to hit the 40-point mark, and even when Newcastle kicked a penalty to the corner the Tigers stripped the ball at maul time to avert the danger.

Leicester closed out what remained of the game in typically professional fashion as Mike Brown scored at the death, with the Premiership season now breaking for two rounds of European action.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Tom Penny (Oliver Spencer, 54), 12 Matias Moroni, 11 Louis Brown (Rory Jennings, 40), 10 Brett Connon, 9 James Elliott (Sam Stuart, 56); 1 Adam Brocklebank (Phil Brantingham, 48), 2 Jamie Blamire (Bryan Byrne, 61), 3 Eduardo Bello (Murray McCallum, 63), 4 John Hawkins (Tim Cardall, 48), 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Pedro Rubiolo, 7 Sam Cross (Freddie Lockwood, 54), 8 Callum Chick (captain).

Scorers – Penalties: Brett Connon.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Freddie Steward, 13 Matt Scott (Solomone Kata, 54), 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Handré Pollard (Jamie Shillcock, 54), 9 Ben Youngs (Tom Whiteley, 54); 1 Francois Van Wyk (James Whitcombe, 61), 2 Julián Montoya (captain, Charlie Clare, 61), 3 Dan Cole (Will Hurd, 57), 4 Harry Wells, 5 Ollie Chessum (Sam Carter, 54), 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Jasper Wiese (Matt Rogerson, 61).

Scorers – Tries: Tommy Reffell 3, Matt Scott, Jasper Wiese, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Mike Brown. Conversions: Handre Pollard 4, Jamie Shillcock 2.

Referee: Sara Cox.