Leicester Tigers beat Newcastle Falcons 36-21, scoring five tries, in the opening home game of the season on Saturday.
After both teams picked up a single point in Round 1 of the Gallagher Premiership campaign, Tigers collected the maximum five on their return to Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
Then, though, two tries in two minutes from Nadolo again and Chris Ashton wrapped up one bonus point by half-time, but Falcons still stayed in the game, bringing the score back to 26-21 early in the second half before Tigers finally put some daylight between the teams with an Olly Cracknell try.
Head coach Steve Borthwick welcomed back England internationals Guy Porter, Ollie Chessum, Joe Heyes and Jack van Poortvliet for the first time after their summer tour in Australia and gave Jimmy Gopperth and James Cronin their home debuts.
After tributes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the singing of God Save The King, the game started with Tigers attacking the Beehive Money Stand end on a clear and bright afternoon.
The game was just two minutes old when Cronin grabbed the first home try of the season and his first on his Mattioli Woods Welford Road debut, barging over on the right after Nadolo had been dragged down by three defenders in the opposite corner and Harry Potter stopped just short as play spread across the pitch. Gopperth added the kick.
Five minutes later, Nadolo extended the score after Porter had crated the opening, the big wing diving into the left-hand corner for a 12-0 advantage.
Falcons had barely touched had a touch at that stage, but when they did gets hands on the ball from a set-piece, they gained a penalty on halfway and, after two lineouts on the left, thought they had scored with a quick exchange at the front of the set-piece, only for referee Craig Maxwell-Keys to signal they had been held up.
Another penalty on halfway on 18 minutes led to a score for Falcons, attacking quickly on the left where scrum-half Josh Barton added the final run to the line from George Wacokecoke’s pass. The referee checked replays on the pass and proximity of the touchline before confirming the score.
Kickchase from the forwards won turnover ball for Tigers in the opposition 22, but the TMO called for a neck roll, giving Falcons a chance to clear their lines.
The visitors lost wing Nathan Earle to injury in their next phases of possession, holding his right arm carefully as play continued upfield, until Tigers forced ball loose in contact.
Tigers were playing with penalty advantage from the set-piece back in their own 22 as Youngs and Gopperth combined to set Nadolo down the left. But as Falcons covered, Chris Ashton’s chip ahead was too strong for the chasers.
Falcons were enjoying some decent possession, helped by a 50-22 kick from Connon which pinned back Tigers on to their own five-metre line, and they made it count with a second try as McGuigan burrowed his way over. The kick from Connon gave them a 14-12 lead on 33 minutes.
Alex Tait narrowly missed another 50-22, seeing the ball bounce on the touchline as he prodded down the Newcastle left, but when Tigers got back up to halfway, quick thinking from Ben Youngs – in his 200th Premiership appearance – broke the defensive line and Nadolo was on his shoulder to beat the final two defenders for his second try of the day.
Just a minute later, Falcons were back under the posts as Harry Wells caught the restart, Nadolo carried again and there was no catching Ashton as he raced to left corner. Gopperth added both conversions for a 26-14 lead at half-time and a bonus point in the bag.
The home side were quickly on the attack at the start of the second half, but after missing a chance from lineout ball on the right, it was the visitors who got the first points, with Mateo Carreras weaving his way to the tryline under the posts. The conversion by Connon narrowed the gap to 26-21.
More followed as Falcons opened up play for Adam Radwan to run in on the right. But, after TMO Ian Tempest checked replays with the referee, the scoring pass was given as forward.
Nadolo forced his way over in the left-hand corner for what would have been a hat-trick score on 57 minutes, but after numerous replays, play came back for a knock-on given against replacement Tommy Reffell as ripped possession in the build-up.
Tigers had to wait until 71 minutes for their next points, though they were important ones from a Gopperth penalty as they increased the hap to 29-21.
When van Poortvliet raced after his own kick to collar Carreras, the whistle went again and this time Tigers kept play tight, going for the set-piece on the left. Charlie Clare’s charge took play up to five metres and, when it was recycled again, it was Cracknell who made the line under a pile of tacklers. Gopperth added the kick to make it 36-21.