Leicester Tigers scored five tries in a 36-19 victory over Newcastle Falcons to record their first victory in the Kings of the North tournament.
The sides were locked at 19-19 at half-time after scoring three first-half tries apiece. Captain Mathew Tait got the ball rolling for the Tigers and there were also scores for fellow backs players Peter Betham and George Catchpole.
But Tigers took control after the break to outscore their visitors by two tries to nil in the second period, with replacement forward Mike Williams making the most of an overlap and Harry Thacker finishing off a driving lineout.
And Tigers will be pleased with their second-half defensive work of the pre-season clash, preventing Newcastle from adding any points in the second 40 minutes.
Tigers named new arrivals Peter Betham, Greg Bateman, Mike Fitzgerald and Lachlan McCaffrey in the starting line-up, with another new arrival, flanker Mike Williams, among the replacements.
Mathew Tait captained the Tigers in the opening home fixture in Kings of the North and fellow England international Tom Croft started in the back row in his first appearance at Welford Road since January.
The Tigers defence was tested in the early exchanges with Newcastle opting for the corner with a penalty. The Tigers lineout defence was good, forcing Newcastle back and then Adam Thompstone won the holding-on penalty to clear the danger.
Freddie Burns also turned down his first kickable penalty to go for the corner. Croft was the target at the lineout and when Newcastle were pinged at the maul, Burns launched a kick Crossfield which was fielded by Catchpole. His inside pass kept the move alive and Tait darted down the wing to score at theleft-hand corner.
Croft was at the centre of much of the early action, flying out of the line to make a big tackle on scrum-half Ruki Tipuna and swooping on a loose ball as Tigers were again tested in defence.
But they were unable to stop the Falcons from getting their lineout drive working on 17 minutes. Calum Green, the former Tigers lock, set up the drive which was finished by George McGuigan on the left. Full-back Brett Connon's conversion gave the Falcons a 7-5 lead.
It signalled a long period of Newcastle possession and pressure in and around the Leicester 22. But the Tigers defence stood firm before Croft profited from good counter-rucking to overturn possession. Catchpole's clearance, which stopped dead next to the left corner-flag, allowed Tigers to take play deep into Falcons territory.
The Tigers back three combined to brilliant effect on the half hour mark to score a stunning try. Catchpole fielded a clearing kick on the left touchline, fed Tait who in turn found Thompstone on an arcing run. Thompstone managed to get the ball to Betham on the right, who still had 50m to run but held off Chris Harris and stepped inside Connon to score. Burns converted to put Tigers 12-7 ahead.
It was a short-lived lead. Craig Willis, the Newcastle fly-half, broke through in midfield and had his captain Will Welch on his shoulder to score at the left corner.
Newcastle took the lead with a third try three minutes from half-time. This time Willis was the scorer, going himself and holding off a couple of tackles to score under the posts. Connon's conversion gave the Falcons a 19-12 lead.
Tigers struck back with their third try right on the stroke of half-time. Patient play forced Falcons back onto their own line and helped create space on the left where Tait's pass was finished by Catchpole. Burns's conversion levelled the scores at 19-19 at the break.
Mike Williams was introduced for Croft at the break.
Tigers took a three-point lead shortly after the restart when Burns landed a penalty from distance following McGuigan's dangerous tackle.
A strong kick-chase by Seremaia Bai and Catchpole forced Willis into touch right on the Falcons 22. The lineout drive sucked in defenders and only a finger-tip tackle prevented Betham from dancing through. But Tigers kept possession and had an overlap on the left, which was finished off by Williams. Burns landed the extras to give Tigers a 29-19 lead.
It was Betham's last contribution, the centre was replaced by Christian Loamanu as Tigers looked to give gametime to their bench. Sebastian de Chaves replaced Mike Fitzgerald and Tommy Bell came on for Bai, slotting in at full-back with Tait going alongside Loamanu at centre.
Tigers were now on top and got their lineout drive working to score their fifth try after 58 minutes. Kitchener controlled the drive and replacement hooker Harry Thacker applied the finish. Burns's conversion gave Tigers a 36-19 lead.
Youngsters Paolo Odogwu, George Worth and George Tresidder were all given a chance to experience the Welford Road occasion.
A lovely offload by McCaffrey, who had returned for Laurence Pearce at No8, set Burns on a lung-busting run from inside his own half. He was stopped 10m short where Richard Mayhew was pinged for hands in the ruck and received a yellow card.
Tigers kept their tryline intact for the second-half, owing much to the work of Tait. The Tigers captain somehow got back to halt Ruaridh Dawson's charge for the line, McCaffrey mopped up and Loamanu cleared to touch.