Newcastle Falcons 26 – 14 Leicester Tigers

Friday 12 February 2016 Written by: Adam

It was a performance built on a foundation of forward grit, a monumental eight-man effort putting Simon Hammersley and Adam Powell in position for the first half tries which ultimately sealed the contest.

Dominating territory and cutting off Leicester’s oxygen supply with a fierce defensive showing, Craig Willis had the final say with a touchline penalty which summed up the feelgood factor currently engulfing the North East outfit.

Even when they trailed 6-0 to a pair of Freddie Burns penalties the Falcons never for a second lost their composure, Tongan warrior Nili Latu leading from the front in another colossal display of openside prowess.

But singling out individuals would be churlish in a result built on the collective, Hammersley good value for his try on 14 minutes.

The fullback had begun the move with a line break down the right, and even when play was worked to the left he remained in situ to collect the scoring pass when it eventually found its way back across the field.

Andy Goode converted from out wide, the veteran fly half controlling the territorial battle with a string of telling kicks into the Tigers’ half.

But this was no battle of the boot, Newcastle mixing up their play and running from deep when the opportunity presented itself.

Nobody better embodied this heads-up rugby ethos than Marcus Watson, the left winger a bundle of energy with his jinking and acceleration.

Even when Burns’ third penalty put the visitors two ahead Newcastle responded with interest, Goode slotting a pair of penalties against a Leicester side forced to infringe by the sheer weight of forward pressure being exerted on them.

Tigers’ boss Richard Cockerill was gracious enough to admit afterwards that the Falcons had won the physical contest, a claim that was beyond dispute when the second try arrived on 35 minutes.

Coming from a ruck between the posts, the home side played advantage to the left and were rewarded when Powell sped through a gap from close range to dot down.

And the Essex native was a hero in defence too, putting in a try-saving second half tackle just seconds after having been dazed by a collision.

It was his last act before being helped from the field, Newcastle extending their lead to 14 points on 50 minutes via Goode’s third penalty.

There was late drama as the Tigers found a try down the short side from replacement flanker Laurence Pearce, but Burns’ missed conversion ensured they remained more than a score behind.

The nine-point buffer was stretched to 12 with the final play when replacement fly half Willis drained a touchline penalty, Falcons fans rising as one to celebrate an unbeaten home streak which now stretches in excess of two months.

**Newcastle Falcons**
S Hammersley, A Tait, C Harris, A Powell (JP Socino, 58), M Watson, A Goode (C Willis, 65), M Young; R Vickers, S Lawson (G McGuigan, 65), T Vea (K Hatakeyama, 65), M Wilson, S Robinson, W Welch (captain), N Latu, A Hogg.

Falcons scorers: Tries: S Hammersley, A Powell. Conversions: A Goode 2. Penalties: A Goode 3, C Willis.

**Leicestet Tigers**
T Veainu, P Betham, M Tait (captain), M Smith (J Roberts, 51), G Camacho, F Burns (O Bryant, 74), S Harrison (J Kitto, 58); M Ayerza (L Mulipola, 56), L Ghiraldini (H Thacker, 50), F Balmain, M Fitzgerald (S de Chaves, 45), G Kitchener, T Croft, L McCaffrey, J Crane.

Tigers scorers – Tries: L Pearce. Penalties: F Burns 3.