Leicester Tigers picked up a first win of the season with five tries in a 49-33 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Welford Road on Saturday.
In Geordan Murphy’s first game as interim head coach, the teams shared 10 tries as Tigers bounced back from defeat at Exeter in Round 1 of the Gallagher Premiership season
An early try from George Ford - who contributed a total of 29 points - was followed by tries from Jonny May and Adam Thompstone to lead by 22 points in the opening 15 minutes.
The visitors opened their account midway through the first half before Manu Tuilagi claimed a bonus point for Tigers in a breathless opening.
Two scores from Vereniki Goneva kept Falcons in the game, though a second from May gave Tigers a 40-19 advantage at the break.
The lead was cut to 10 points early in the second half and Falcons enjoyed plenty of possession and field position before Tigers came through to delight the home crowd.
Falcons, who lost 21-32 at home to Saracens last Sunday, included five players with Tigers connections, including Toby Flood and Goneva, while Logovi’i Mulipola made his first return to Welford Road since a summer move to Tyneside.
Tigers give home debuts to summer signings Kyle Eastmond, Will Spencer and David Denton. Four other summer arrivals are among the replacements alongside England Under-20s internationals Tom Hardwick and Jordan Olowofela.
The Falcons have won just twice in their last 17 visits to Welford Road, but ended Tigers’ hope of a Premiership semi-final place last season with a 25-23 victory in the penultimate league fixture of the season.
Ford got the game under way after a minute’s silence in respect of former club secretary and president Tudor Thomas, and Tigers were immediately on to the offensive with the fly-half putting Spencer through a gap and then getting back on the ball near the tryline. Thompstone also went close, only to be shut out by Goneva, but Tigers retained possession and eventually Ford got to the line. After confirmation from the TMO, referee Matthew Carley awarded the first Tigers try of the season.
Ford’s conversion hit the outside of the near post and Falcons had a chance for an instant reply only for Flood to pull a penalty wide from 30 metres.
Denton collected ball at the front of a lineout near halfway and Tigers set up a promising drive before being handed a penalty as Falcons brought it down.
Ford connected firmly with the kick from just inside of the 10-metre line and Tigers were eight in front on seven minutes.
Falcons then proved masters of their own downfall in possession in midfield, being met with some stubborn resistance from Tigers and then Brendon O’Connor picked off a lateral pass and broke upfield. As Goneva came across to cover, the flanker passed to his left and May ran in to score. Ford added the extras for a 15-0 lead with not quite 10 minutes played.
A third try followed three minutes later with Ben Youngs, Ford and Eastmond keeping the backline moving, O’Connor providing a vital link and then Thompstone going over on the right. Ford’s conversion kick made it 22-0 on 15 minutes.
Falcons got on the scoreboard after 17 minutes when some strong carrying from prop Sami Mavinga and then Sinoti Sinoti opened the door for scrum-half Sonatane Takulua to provide a try which Flood converted.
A penalty for a high tackle on Eastmond gave Ford another sight of the posts, and his kick from 30 metres made it 25-7.
The bonus-point score came on 23 minutes and was met with huge cheers as Tuilagi showed power to get through two tackles near halfway and then pace to go through and win a footrace from Goneva to the line.
Ford’s kick from the right went in off the left-hand post to stretch the lead to 32-7.
But Falcons, with Mavinga carrying strongly again, came back with a Goneva try, picking up loose ball in the right-hand corner after colleague Simon Hammersley ball had lost possession in contact. Flood added a touchline conversion to make it 32-14 with 13 minutes still to play in the half.
Tuilagi looked sharp in the next Tigers attack and, although an ankle tap took him down, Flood was penalised as Youngs looked to recycle and Ford kicked the points to take the gap back up to 20 points.
Eastmond was replaced by Tom Hardwick on 32 minutes after treatment for what looked like a calf injury, and Tigers were quickly back behind their lines as Josh Matavesi produced a pinpoint offload on the left. Ford kicked clear from behind the tryline but Falcons quickly had a penalty and Flood pushed it into the left-hand corner.
They retained ball and had penalty advantage before opening up across the field and Goneva was able to push his way over past the last defender in the opposite corner for his second try of the afternoon. Flood was off-target with the conversion with Tigers 35-19 in front.
O’Connor was whistled for offside in chasing a Ford kick and the referee brought play right back into Tigers territory. Flood, though, failed to make touch with the kick and Thompstone was able to play out from the back.
A knock-on from Matavesi, just as Falcons looked to stretch the Tigers defence near halfway, But before play could restart with a scrum, injury brought O’Connor’s shift to an end as Thompson came off the bench for his debut.
There was still time for Tigers to gain a penalty at the scrum with a minute left in the half and Ford drilled play into the right-hand corner. The catch from Mike Williams set up a drive and, with advantage being played, Tigers spread play wide and May was able to dive in for his second of the day. Ford, from the touchline, was wife with the kick but Tigers led 40-19 at half-time.
Falcons were the first on the front foot, building possession and territory before putting a penalty into the left corner. Tigers got through their drills in defence but were whistled again five metres out and Flood again went for the lineout option.
This time the visitors set up the drive quicker, and Mark Wilson broke off the blindside to score, a try confirmed after replays with the TMO to give Falcons their fourth score. Flood’s kick made it 41-26 on 47 minutes.
When Will Welch was blown for offside ahead of a Falcons clearing kick, Tigers called for the tee and Ford added the three points.
Tigers were then penalised at a ruck just as they thought they’d won turnover ball and Falcons went to the right-hand corner. Although Tigers held out two drives, Mavinga managed to force his way over for their fifth try and Flood brought it back to 43-33 with a well-judged conversion.
Ford looked like he’d managed to wriggle clear from the restart before Falcons scrambled back, but Tigers had the penalty award and the fly-half made it eight successes from 10 as he made it 46-33 approaching the hour mark.
A crunching tackle from Tuilagi on Goneva knocked ball loose and allowed Tigers to try again, with Ford again finding the acceleration to break the line before the Falcons got back. But Tigers fell foul of the whistle on halfway and Flood prodded Falcons forward once more.
This time Denton clawed lineout possession back in Tigers favour as the home crowd roared their team on.
But the referee halted play for obstruction, giving Newcastle another penalty and moments later the TMO was called upon again as Thompson and Veainu got under Takalua’s push for the tryline.
Referee Carley adjudged there was no grounding, but one of the tacklers was offside in front of the line and Veainu went to the sin bin.
Falcons resumed with a penalty five metres out but dropped possession at the lineout as Tigers were able to catch their breath. The scrum was as final contribution for Dan Cole and Greg Bateman as Tigers made changes in the front row, then Sione Kalamafoni stole lineout ball as the hosts desperately looked for a way out of their own territory.
Spencer received treatment for a blood injury, with Harry Wells on in the second row, and Kalamafoni showed his strength as he picked up at another scrum, only for the whistle to go for an accidental offside on halfway.
Tigers finally made it back up towards Falcons territory with Ford and Tuilagi, but Falcons ripped ball at the breakdown and Hammersley had to be cut down as he looked to break free.
The home side again managed to disrupt Falcons lineout ball but were pinned back and had to kick to touch with the game into its last 10 minutes and Veainu’s sin bin time almost complete. Falcons this time took possession but came to a halt with a forward pass off the back of the set-piece.
Rather than send Veainu back on, Jordan Olowofela got his chance at full-back.
After a penalty on the right, Tigers tried to set up Ford for a drop-goal attempt, but he failed to connect cleanly and Falcons got back on the ball. Takulua threatened a score until Olowofela closed in and in the next phase Tigers gained a penalty on the floor, to a huge roar from the 20,000-strong crowd.
The clock had reached the final 90 seconds when Ford booted up to halfway and referee Carley quickly whistled for a high tackle on Hardwick and then marched Falcons back as Ford called for the tee just inside their half with time up. The fly-half made no mistake with the kick in the final action of the game.
LeoVegas Man of the Match
Fans have voted George Ford their LeoVegas Man of the Match after a brilliant performance by the Tigers fly-half. Well player Fordy.
All over at Welford Road
It was tense at times. It was thrilling throughout. Tigers have their first win of the season, beating Falcons 49-33. What a game!
Ford lands a penalty from close to halfway with the last kick of the game. It sets the seal on a 49-33 victory for the Tigers.
Penalty to finish
Joel Hodgson is whistled for a high tackle on Hardwick. He then argues the decision with referee Carley is marched back 10 to bring the posts into play ...
Tigers dig deep one last time and hold off a final Falcons attack. Thompson latches on to win the penalty 15m from the line to one of the biggest cheers of the day.
Clever from Harrison
Falcons have been frustrating Tigers all game by lying at the back of rucks. Cavubati's lazy running blocks Harrison's quick pass and Tigers have the penalty. They kick to the Falcons 22.
Veainu's period in the sin bin is over without any additional score. He won't return though, instead Jordan Olowofela comes on for his home debut in the Gallagher Premiership.
Tigers retain possession at their own put-in. Kalamafoni tidies up again and Harrison finds touch. It's getting scrappy in open play too, as Falcons are whistled for a forward pass.
Top shift Youngsy
Ben Youngs comes off to another huge ovation. He is replaced by Sam Harrison. We're into the final 10 minutes of a pulsating clash.
Match action photos
The Tiger Images team have been in good form with their lenses this afternoon.
LeoVegas Man of the Match voting
The biggest ovation of the day so far reserved for Mulipola as he comes off for Newcastle. While we wait for play to resume, there's time to remind you to vote for your LeoVegas Man of the Match on the app.
Wells is on for Tigers, in place of Spencer, who gets a huge ovation as he goes off for blood. Socino, Brocklebank and Cavubati on for the visitors.
Ma'afu and Feao are on for Tigers, replacing Cole and Bateman. Good luck on your home debuts boys. Meanwhile, a super tackle by Thompson forces Graham into the knock-on.
Graham knocks on as he collects the lineout. It feels like a huge moment in the game. Kalamafoni tidies up at the base of the scrum and Ford finds touch 30m out.
Veainu to the bin
Referee Carley sends Veainu to the sin bin for offside before he made the tackle on Takulua. Play will restart with a penalty to the Falcons, which Flood puts to the corner.
TMO time. Again.
We've gone to the TMO for a potential Falcons try. Tait is stopped just short and Takalua follows up, but he looks to have been held up by Veainu.
Front row replacement
Tom Youngs has given his all, and the Leicester captain is replaced by Jimmy Stevens. Ford is the on-field skipper.
We're into the last 20 minutes at Welford Road. It's a nail-biter, but Denton eases the nerves by stealing a lineout inside the Tigers 22. Tigers are counterattacking from deep, but again fall foul of referee Carley while in possession.
Ford adds three more
Ford, who created the field position with his run, kicks the three-pointer to extend Tigers' lead to 46-33. This is an absolute belter of a game!
Ford makes a superb break from halfway. He takes Tigers to within 10m, where Newcastle are pinged for killing the ball. They receive a team warning and Ford is going for goal.
Falcons fight back
The Falcons are right back in this as Flood lands a touchline conversion to cut the Leicester lead to 43-33.
Falcons on the mark again
All hands to the pump for Tigers in defence. But they cannot keep out Sami Mavinga, who burrows over from close range.
Vote for your LeoVegas Man of the Match
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Ford lands his kick
Ford moves Tigers more than two scores ahead with his penalty. They lead 43-26 at Welford Road.
Is this the penalty chance for Tigers to settle themselves down? Will Welch is in front of the kicker and play comes back to just outside the Newcastle 22. Gary Graham and Alex Tait on for Falcons.
Flood's conversion cuts the Leicester lead to 40-26. Tigers could do with scoring next to settle any nerves.
Falcons try bonus
The try is awarded. Falcons had the penalty advantage as Tigers pulled down the maul. Wilson continued to play and held off Ben Youngs to score.
TMO time again
Referee Carley is consulting his TMO as Mark Wilson flies over. The officials are checking whether Wilson was tackled before getting back up to score.
Tigers dig deep in defence
Tigers repel the lineout drive, and then stand firm in the face of wave after wave of Falcons attacks before Newcastle win another penalty. They go to the corner again.
First test for Tigers
Flood kicks a penalty to the corner, and the Tigers lineout defence will be tested early no in this half.
The second half starts
Former Tiger Flood gets us going again, launching his kick straight down Kalamafoni's throat.
The teams are back out
Newcastle are out for the second half, followed by Tom Youngs and the Tigers. Tigers will be attacking the Robin Hood Stand end of the ground this half.
What a half!
Ford cannot add the conversion with the last kick of the half. But that has been a fantastic first half under Geordan Murphy for the Tigers, scoring five tries to lead 40-19 at the break.
... and Tigers score!
Tigers are rewarded for going to the corner with the penalty, scoring their fifth try of the half. Veainu's pass found May in space and the winger juggled possession before diving in at the left corner.
Tigers on the attack ...
... with a 5m lineout as the half comes to a close ...
Debut for Thompson
There's a good ovation for Brendon O'Connor as he comes off and for Guy Thompson as he comes on for his debut.
Flood is unable to add the touchline conversion. Tigers lead 35-19 with four minutes to go until the break.
GONEVA GOES OVER
The former Tigers wing finds his way over for a second try in just 10 minutes. Flood misses the kick as we approach the final five minutes of the first half.
Tigers survive a scare
Ford is aware to the danger as Sinoti kicks towards the Leicester line. He picks up the bouncing ball as he crosses the line, and somehow pivots to find touch on the 22.
Eastmond, after a really industrious first 30 minutes for Tigers, is coming off. He is replaced by academy product Tom Hardwick.
Ford lands the kick
... Ford makes his former teammate Flood pay by landing the penalty to move Tigers 35-14 ahead.
Flood pinged ... again
Flood is whistled for being offside as Tigers look to secure quick ball from Tuilagi's run. Ford points to the posts ...
The points keep coming
Flood lands the touchline conversion to reduce Tigers' lead to 32-14. That's 46 points in the opening 28 minutes at Welford Road.
The try is given
Simon Hammersley was stripped of possession as he was tackled by Tuilagi, but the ball went backwards and Goneva picked up possession to walk over at the corner.
Is that a Falcons try?
Goneva has dotted down in the corner, but referee Matthew Carley is talking to his TMO about a possible knock-on.
In off the post
Tuilagi's score brings Welford Road to its feet and with it the try bonus point. Ford makes it a seven-point score, adding the conversion with the help of the left-hand post.
Manu is back!
What a try from Manu Tuilagi. Make sure you catch that one on any highlights. He burst through a tackle on halfway and sprinted away from Vereniki Goneva to score a fantastic try.
Ford lands the kick
Ford lands his penalty from some 35m out to increase the Tigers lead to 25-7.
Midway point in the first half
Flood is pinged for a high tackle in midfield as we finish the first quarter, and Ford points to the posts ...
Flood lands the conversion to cut Leicester's lead to 22-7.
Falcons hit back
Newcastle get into the Tigers 22 for the first time and come away with the try. Sinoti Sinoti wriggles his way to within 5m of the line and Sonatane Takalua is following up to accept the offload and score.
Ford adds the extras to move Tigers 22-0 ahead. This has been a dream start by the Tigers.
Tigers are roaring!
Tigers rip into the Falcons, sending the big blokes down onto the defence before the smaller shape of Eastmond carves Newcastle open with a lovely pass to Brendon O'Connor. he finds Thompstone for a run to the line.
What a tackle!
Sione Kalamafoni produces a huge tackle on Flood and then drives over to steal possession. Now the Tigers have a lineout on the Falcons 22. Spencer secures possession ...
What a start!
Ford lands a simple conversion and Tigers have started the Geordan Murphy era at a breathtaking pace, scoring 15 unanswered points inside the first 10 minutes.
Tiiigggeeerrrsss rings round Welford Road as Jonny May goes in for the second try. Brendon O'Connor intercepted Flood's pass on halfway and made 30m before popping a pass for May to finish.
Tigers get their maul working and make five metres befoer it is pulled down by McGuigan, on his return to Welford Road. Ford makes him pay with the penalty. Tigers lead 8-0.
Flood fails from the tee
Former Tiger Toby Flood pulls a penalty wide with his first kick at goal, as Tigers are pinged for a late tackle. The hosts lead 5-0 after a frenetic first five minutes.
More on the try
It was lovely skill from Ford, who dummied the pass wide, which was bought by former teammate Logovi'i Mulipola. George McGuigan made the tackle but Ford was able to reach out to score. The try was unconverted.
Tigers have the early try they crave. And it's Ford who has it. The fly-half is grounded but reaches out to score Tigers' first try of the season.
Tigers are quick out of the blocks with Spencer bursting through, Ben Youngs who hit Ford before Adam Thompstone was wrestled just short.
The season is underway at Welford Road, with Tigers attacking the Mattioli Woods Stand end of the ground.
Welford Road stands to pay tribute to former first-team secretary and club president Tudor Thomas.
Here come the teams
Welford Road is rocking as Tom Youngs leads out the team for the first time under Geordan Murphy. Come you Tigers boys. Let's do this!
Crumbie rises for Geordan
A huge ovation for Geordan Murphy from around the stadium as he leaves the field at the end of the warm-up.
LeoVegas Man of the Match
Don't forget to vote for your LeoVegas Man of the Match from half-time of today's fixture exclusively on the club app.
The confirmed teams for this afternoon's Gallagher Premiership clash
Hear from the gaffer
Geordan Murphy has been speaking to LTTV ahead of kick-off
Good luck to Geordan Murphy in his first game as interim head coach. And all the best to Kyle Eastmond, Will Spencer, David Denton, Campese Ma'afu, David Feao and Guy Thompson on their first Premiership Rugby home game.
Tigers in the Park
It's been a grrreat start to game day with our Grrreatest Show-themed Tigers in the Park FREE family fun day. Fans and non-matchday players have been enjoying themselves with live music, entertainments and activities on Nelson Mandela Park opposite the stadium.
Welcome back to Welford Road for the first home game of the new Gallagher Premiership season. It's grrreat to be back!