Leicester’s march towards the Aviva Premiership Rugby title shows no signs of losing momentum after they won 24-13 at Kingston Park.
The Tigers scored three tries but missed out on the bonus point win, although the four points keep them well ahead of Saracens in the table.
The struggling Falcons signalled their intention from the start, running the ball out of defence from the kick-off. However, they were lucky not to be 3-0 down in the second minute when Jeremy Staunton missed a simple penalty for not rolling away in the tackle.
In an error-strewn first quarter, Newcastle had the better shape with Jimmy Gopperth prompting and when Leicester went over the ball on their own 22-metre line, he kicked the 14th-minute penalty for 3-0.
Gopperth was hero turned villain when he tried to run the restart out of defence and his inside pass was intercepted. It was only a matter of time before Alesana Tuilagi crashed over for the try and Staunton converted for 7-3 in the 16th minute.
Leicester were by far the more dominant side but their error count was climbing and a weaving Luke Fielden run had Tigers backpedalling just on halfway before Matt Thompson just failed to get in a round-the-back pass which could have spelled real trouble.
Staunton made a superb step and break but there was only one problem – he lost the ball as he went through the gap – and no-one had touched him. He did kick a 32nd-minute penalty when Newcastle pulled down a maul but when Matt Smith took out Fielden as he chipped ahead Gopperth narrowed the gap to 10-6 with the penalty.
Newcastle’s half-time curse almost struck again when Ally Hogg dropped the restart but he made amends when Staunton chipped and Hogg somehow got to the ball ahead of Manu Tuilagi behind the Falcons line.
The Tuilagi brothers combined to make the hole for Smith to crash over and Staunton’s conversion pushed the Tigers 17-6 ahead after 47 minutes.
Newcastle bounced back when hooker Rob Vickers showed all the handling skills of a back to set up a try for Tane Tu’ipulotu – and Gopperth converted for 17-13 in the 58th minute. But a crucial error saw Tom Catterick allow the ball to bounce in the 73rd minute and Leicester snapped it up and James Grindal eventually squeezed over.
Staunton converted to deny Newcastle a losing bonus point – and the Falcons could quickly be back at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table if Leeds beat Harlequins at Headingley on Sunday.