Leicester hold on to leave Newcastle bottom of Premiership

Chris Harris

Gallagher Premiership
Newcastle (12) 22
Tries: Harris, Takulua 2 Cons: Takulua 2 Pen: Takulua
Leicester (13) 27
Tries: May, Thompson 2 Cons: Ford 3 Pens: Ford 2

Newcastle Falcons’ survival hopes were badly dented as Leicester Tigers eased their own relegation fears by holding on for a tense win at Kingston Park.

Defeat left Falcons bottom of the Premiership with three games remaining.

Jonny May’s early try helped put Tigers 13-0 up but quickfire scores from Chris Harris and Tane Takulua cut Falcons’ half-time deficit to just one point.

Tigers’ Guy Thompson went over twice either side of Takulua’s second, before Tigers held off late Falcons pressure.

Leicester’s win ended their three-match losing run and was their first away victory this season that was not on a neutral ground, lifting them up to ninth, eight points above Falcons.

Last season’s Premiership semi-finalists Newcastle still have to face Northampton at home on 26 April before 4 May’s trip to Gloucester and then a final-day meeting with Bristol Bears at Kingston Park.

They had won three of their previous four games to boost their survival bid, but Friday’s nervy loss to one of their fellow strugglers leaves them closer to a possible end to their six-year top-flight stay.

Leicester – who host Bristol next time out on 27 April – celebrated the result fervently after a resilient defensive effort in the closing moments, repeatedly holding off the Falcons just a few metres out.

An inspired Thompson brilliantly fed May for the opening try, before running clear to score after an interception in the second half, and adding his own second try from close range after referee Wayne Barnes had consulted with the TMO.

Takulua impressed with a powerful finish for his first try, before instinctively diving over while Leicester’s Mike Williams was in the sin-bin in the second half, on a relatively heated night that was typified by Tigers’ George Ford utilising all 90 of his available seconds to kick his third conversion to make it 27-22.

Leicester Tigers fly-half George Ford told BBC Sport:

“I feel relief more than happiness. We’ve missed that winning feeling.

“The forwards got us out of that. For confidence and momentum, it’s huge.

“It’s been hard, people coming up to us saying ‘what’s going wrong?’ But tonight we had unbelievable clarity. And we showed plenty of fight.”

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards told BBC Sport:

“We should have won it. We dominated the last few minutes but we weren’t accurate enough.

“The boys are down but I’ve said all along it will go to the last game of the season.”

Newcastle: Hammersley; Goneva, Harris, Matavesi, Sinoti; Flood, Takulua; Mulipola, McGuigan, Ah You, Green, Davidson, Graham, Hardie, Wilson.

Replacements: Cooper, Lockwood, Davison, Robinson, Olmstead, Young, Connon, Williams.

Leicester: Toomua; May, Owen, Tuilagi, Olowofela; Ford, Harrison; Genge, Kerr, Cole, Spencer, Kitchener, Fitzgerald, Williams, Thompson.

Replacements: Polota-Nau, Gigena, Heyes, Wells, O’Connor, White, Aspland-Robinson, Smith.

Referee: Wayne Barnes

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BBC Sport – Rugby Union

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