Newcastle Falcons secure a last-minute victory at Welford Road to further playoff ambitions.
Photo credit: @falconsrugby
Leicester Tigers hosted play-off competitors Newcastle Falcons this evening, looking to exert the frustrations of a first loss in 11 years to Northampton Saints at home.
Newcastle came out the blocks firing with another classic Vereniki Goneva try after picking and going from the ruck.
The home side responded excellently following Goneva''s first of two scores of the evening at his old stomping ground. The forward pack returned to form after a disappointing performance against Saints with Manu Tuilagi distracting Falcons' defence while fit-again openside Brendan O'Connor flaunted his pace ball-in-hand and proved to be a pest at the breakdown. Tigers' reaction to Goneva's score came in the shape of a Jonny May try, crossing the whitewash after his side pulled in enough Newcastle defenders to run in the overlap.
Newcastle did well to restrict the Tigers to a single try in the first-half, due in large part to the slowing of Leicester's ball by Gary Graham, Ally Hogg and Scott Lawson. Such was the effectiveness of Falcons' breakdown work, George Ford was forced to resort to an unsuccessful drop goal attempt after promising momentum had been halted by the visitors.
Dean Richards' side were hit hard in the first 25 minutes with injury. The visiting side lost their starting tighthead, Scott Wilson, second row Sean Robinson and fly-half Joel Hodgson to injury. With a try and two penalties apiece from various infringes at the set piece and breakdown, a 13 all score at half-time may well be viewed upon fortunately by the Falcons coaching staff after their many casualties.
Tigers' ascendancy continued during the second-half with clear scrum dominance and enough pressure around the maul to force penalties out of Falcons' pack. Leicester's reward for their efforts came through a Mike Fitzgerald try and George Ford penalty, going ten points ahead with 19 minutes to go.
However, Tigers downfall came by their decision to attempt to turn up the heat and pressurise Newcastle through their kicking game. The visitor's usual runners had been starved of time and space ball-in-hand thus far and took the chances afforded them by the home side's decision to kick possession away.
A second try from Goneva and a third from Ally Hogg saw Newcastle surge to the victory in the last 11 minutes.
With the injuries they suffered in the first-half and the momentum Leicester enjoyed at times, we once again find ourselves crediting the Falcons coaching staff for the patient yet dangerous side they have pieced together at Kingston Park.
Tries: May, Fitzgerald
Conversions: Ford (2/2)
Penalties: Ford (3/3)
Tries: Goneva (2), Hogg
Conversions: Hodgson (1/1), Takalua (1/1)
Penalties: Hodgson (1/1), Socino (1/1)
For breaking news, insight and analysis follow Crashball Rugby on Twitter and Facebook. lick on the links below to find us.