|Leicester Tigers: (26) 36|
|Tries: Cronin, Nadolo 2, Ashton, Cracknell Cons: Gopperth 4 Pens: Gopperth|
|Newcastle Falcons: (14) 21|
|Tries: Barton, McGuigan, Carreras Cons: Connon 3|
Champions Leicester Tigers overcame Newcastle Falcons for their first Premiership win of the season.
Tries from James Cronin and Nemani Nadolo gave Tigers an early lead, only for Josh Barton and George McGuigan scores to edge Newcastle ahead.
A second from Nadolo and a Chris Ashton score put Tigers 26-14 up at the break.
Mateo Carreras replied with a fine solo try, but a Jimmy Gopperth kick and Olly Cracknell try completed Tigers’ bonus-point victory at home.
Defeat was Newcastle’s second of the season, having been beaten 40-31 by Harlequins in last week’s season opener.
Ollie Chessum and Guy Porter, who both toured with England during the off-season, started for Tigers for the first time this season, while Joe Heyes and Jack van Poortvliet came off the bench for their first appearances following the summer of international duty.
Porter showcased why England boss Eddie Jones had handed the centre his recent international debut, playing a part in both early tries.
The 25-year-old twice skipped through Newcastle’s defence with devastating effect, linking up with Nadolo to make it 12-0 after Cronin grabbed the game’s first try out wide after Tigers were twice held up close to the line.
Barton’s first try for Newcastle in the 18th minute steadied the visitors, who stunned the home fans by taking the lead just after the half-hour mark when Brett Connon converted McGuigan’s score from a pick and go from close range.
Ben Youngs, in his 200th Premiership appearance, then broke clear and set Nadolo up for his second score of the day, before the Fijian linked up with Ashton a minute later to earn Leicester a try-scoring bonus point before the break.
Carreras pounced on a Tigers error then side-stepped his way through the defence to touch down after the interval.
Both sides had a try ruled out after scrutiny from the television match official – which included a call to deny Nadolo a hat-trick for a forward pass – and while Tigers were made to work hard, Gopperth’s penalty and Cracknell’s try in the final 10 minutes sealed victory.
‘Plenty Tigers have to do better’ – Reaction
Leicester Tigers boss Steve Borthwick:
“There’s plenty of things we have to do better, that’s always the way.
“I think what you’ve seen is a lot of team changes from last week to this week and you’re seeing some new partnerships develop.
“As ever, when you try and develop that there’s going to be mistakes but I thought in large parts there was progress today.
“There’s always things we’ve got to work on and in the coming weeks you’re going to see more players come in to the team.
“Ultimately, we played against a very dangerous team today and got away with a bonus-point win.”
Newcastle Falcons head coach Dave Walder:
“There’s a lot of positivity around the players in terms of what we’re trying to do – they’re as disappointed as I am that we haven’t got a result.
“We played the champions from two years ago last week and the champions from the season just gone this week and they’re playing drastically different styles of rugby which presents challenges.
“I was chatting about how we’re going to run the half-time, next minute we’re 26-14 down having given them two soft tries with two switch-offs.”
Leicester Tigers: Ashton; Potter, Scott, Porter, Nadolo; Gopperth, B Youngs; Cronin, Clare, Cole; Wells, Green, Martin, Chessum, Liebenberg.
Replacements: Taufete’e, Van Wyk, Heyes, Cracknell, Reffell, van Poortvliet, Cokanasiga, Murimurivalu.
Newcastle Falcons: Tait; Radwan, Wacokecoke, Lucock, Earle; B Connon, Barton; Brantingham, McGuigan, Davison; Peterson, Robinson, Welch, Blamire, Fearns.
Replacements: Maddison, Cade, Tampin, de Chaves, Collett, Nordli-Kelemeti, Schoeman, Carreras.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys.