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Burke boots Falcons to victory over Tigers

24 Feb 2006
Burke boots Falcons to victory over Tigers

In a dour game, dominated by the whistle of referee Ashley Rowden, the Falcons edged out an out-of-sorts Tigers outfit who were missing seven players through RBS 6 Nations Championship call-ups.

Newcastle full-back Matt Burke grabbed a personal haul of 21 points through seven successful penalties and Tom May added a dropped goal in a game riddled with errors in front of a packed house.

Leicester substitute Henry Tuilagi scored the only try of the game, but there was little running rugby on display from either side.

The defeat is another blow to Leicester’s hopes of a top-four finish in the Premiership, and if London Irish beat Northampton on Sunday the Tigers will drop out of the play-off places.

The whistle of referee Rowden dominated the early exchanges, with both sides seemingly intent on slowing down the opposition’s ball at the breakdown by fair means or foul.

The Falcons’ former Australia international Burke – fresh from signing a two-year contract extension – slotted three superbly-struck penalties, while Leicester responded with two penalties of their own from stand-off Ian Humphreys to make it 9-6 after 15 minutes.

Both sides struggled for continuity, although young Falcons’ backs Mathew Tait and Toby Flood showed some touches of real class.

Another Humphreys penalty levelled the scores at 9-9 and Leicester looked to have taken the lead minutes later when Sam Vesty chipped ahead and gathered before outstripping the defence to dive over.

However, the touch judge on the far side had spotted an earlier high tackle by Leicester winger Alesana Tuilagi on his opposite man May, and the `score’ was disallowed.

Two more Burke penalties put the Falcons 15-9 in front, but even those points were not enough to settle the increasingly frustrated sell-out crowd of 10,200.

Their mood was not helped when referee Rowden spotted yet another infringement just before the break, but this time Humphreys was wide no the mark.

The young Tigers fly-half had another chance early in the second half but he skewed his kick well wide, much to the delight of the crowd.

Burke’s sixth successful kick of the night put the Falcons nine points clear with half an hour to play.

The visitors’ cause was further hampered when they lost openside flanker Shane Jennings to the sin bin for killing the ball on the floor in the 53rd minute.

Burke’s first miss of the night in the 57th minute let the Tigers of the hook with the Irishman in the bin, but the Falcons remained the more likely to score.

The home side looked to have made the game safe in the 68th minute when winger May stepped back into the pocket and dropped a neat goal from 18 metres out.

But the Tigers refused to lie down, and came back at the Falcons when scrum-half Austin Healy drifted wide from the back of a ruck and slipped a neat pass back inside to substitute Henry Tuilagi to score.

Sam Vesty’s conversion made it 21-16 with eight minutes left.

Burke should have made the game safe minutes later but missed his second kick of the night from a relatively simple position, but he had another chance in the 76th minute and this time he made no mistake.

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing

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