Leicester Tigers were beaten 33-10 by Newcastle Falcons in the sixth round of the Premiership ‘A’ League at Loughborough University on Monday evening.
In a game played in heavy rain almost from first whistle to last, Tigers got off to a good start with the opening try of the evening but then saw their more experienced rivals claim five scores to consolidate second place in the northern conference table.
Captained by George Worth who started at fly-half, Tigers were without six players on international under-20s duties as well as the academy players preparing for the Under-18 League Final on Sunday and included 12 players from Loughborough University in the matchday squad, while Matt Smith, Tom Brady and Dom Barrow provided the experience in the line-up.
It was student flanker Cameron Wilkins who provided the opening points of the evening, providing the finishing touch from a strong rolling maul by the Tigers after just five minutes’ play.
But Falcons responded with three first-half tries, two from prop Scott Wilson and one from full-back Tom Penny, all converted by Brett Connon, as they reached the break 21-5 in front.
With encouragement from first-team colleagues and members of the England Under-20s squad on the sidelines, Tigers enjoyed good spells of possession in the second half, together with periods of pressure on the Falcons tryline before Charlie Thacker provided the second try, holding off two defenders to finish smartly in the left-hand corner.
Thacker was prominent in many of the Tigers attacks, with Fred Tuilagi and Ben Betts carrying repeatedly among the forwards, though the Falcons defence shut out the remaining opportunities and still managed to break out to add to their own tally with Craig Willis scoring in the right-hand corner to secure the bonus point.
Replacement prop Adam Brocklebank then charged over near the posts for the final try of the evening, with Willis adding the conversion.
15 Tom Brady
14 Will Foster (Loughborough University)
13 Matt Smith
12 Charlie Thacker
11 Jack Antoniou (Loughborough University)
10 George Worth (c)
9 Ben Pointon (Loughborough University)
1 Facundo Gigena
2 Harry Mahoney
3 Ben Betts
4 Dom Barrow
5 Joe Maksymiw
6 Will Foster (Loughborough University)
7 Cameron Wilkins (Loughborough University)
8 Fred Tuilagi
16 Jamie Cox (Loughborough University)
17 Owen Hills
18 Andrew Nathan-Boyd (Loughborough University)
19 Sam Bailey (Loughborough University)
20 Oliver Kilgallon (Loughborough University)
21 Will Findlay (Loughborough University)
22 Joe Carolan (Loughborough University)
23 Bamidele Fadahunsi (Loughborough University)
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Adam Radwan, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Sami Mavinga, 2 Santiago Socino, 3 Scott Wilson, 4 Evan Olmstead, 5 Andrew Davidson, 6 Callum Chick, 7 Simon Uzokwe, 8 Ryan Burrows (c)
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Trevor Davison, 19 Max Davies, 20 Matt Salway (Northumbria University), 21 Cameron Cowell, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Belisario Agulla
Tigers dig in to the end and hold up Belisario Agulla as he dives for the left-hand corner. It is the final play of the game, and Falcons have won with a bonus-point 33-10.
Willis kicks an easy conversion from in front of the posts, and Falcons now lead 33-10.
Falcons extend their lead with a fifth try. Adam Brocklebank barges his way through to score.
Flying Falcons halted
A brilliant break by Newcastle from their own 22 is ended by a forward pass just as Max Davies was away. Looked a tight call from referee Michael Hudson.
Brilliant from Bailey
The whole of the Falcons defence bought that dummy from Sam Bailey and the replacement lock strides into the Newcastle half. The retreating Sami Mavinga gets to his offload, however, and the break comes to an end.
Bonus point for Falcons
Newcastle bring up their try bonus with their fourth try. A smart move off the back of the scrum is finished at the right-hand corner by replacement Craig Willis. The try goes unconverted.
Worth, from the far side of the pitch, is wide with his conversion. Tigers trail 21-10.
Tigers make their pressure pay
The pressure finally tells and Tigers have their second score, and a fine individual score it was too. Thacker collected the ball 30m out and held off a couple of tacklers to score.
More Tigers pressure
Tigers have started this half really well ... but need some points to show for it. Tuilagi and Harry Mahoney go close before Falcons are pinged for offside.
Tom Brady's evening is over. He is off with Joe Carolan on for the Tigers.
Tigers pile the pressure on the Falcons defence and inch their way up to the line. However, Tigers are stripped in the tackle and Falcons clear.
Fred Tuilagi charges down Connon's kick close to halfway. He has the presence to find Charlie Thacker on his outside but the centre is hauled down 10m from the line.
Get set for the second half
The teams are back out at Loughborough University. Newcastle lead 21-5 with Tigers attacking from left to right this half.
Half-time at Loughborough
... Tigers are unable to find a way through and when Ben Pointon dinks a kick over the defence Penny returns it with interest to bring the first half to an end.
Tigers steady the ship
As half-time approaches, Tigers have a lineout on the Falcons 10m line and a chance to attack ...
Worth works his way through
Worth pounces on spilled ball and hacks through. Penny misjudges the bounce and Worth hacks on again. This time Zach Kibirige is there to mop up, though there's a hint of a knock-on, and Falcons clear.
Connon converts again
Connon lands his third conversion to move Falcons 21-5 ahead.
Quick-fire double for Falcons
Newcastle cut through the Tigers defence to score their third of the evening. It's prop Wilson with his second of the game.
Fresh from creating the Newcastle try, fly-half Connon converts to extend the Falcons lead.
Newcastle cross for a second
Newcastle extend their lead with a second try of the game. Connon spotted no one at home for Tigers and his chip was collected in-goal - just - by full-back Tom Penny.
Brett Connon lands a simple conversion to give Falcons the lead for the first time.
The scores are level as Newcastle drive over from close range for their opening try. It's credited to Scott Wilson.
The all-weather pitch at Loughborough holding up well in heavy rain! But already there have been some handling errors for both teams in the slippery conditions.
Tigers make a good start with a try from the lineout drive. Barrow sets it up and flanker Cameron Wilkins applies the finish. Captain George Worth unable to land the touchline conversion.
Plenty of senior players, including Telusa Veainu, Logovi'i Mulipola and Manu Tuilagi watching from the side as the game gets going.
Teams are out
It is raining steadily in Loughborough as Newcastle and the Tigers take to the field. Tigers will attack from right to left in the first half.
This evening's confirmed teams, with Tigers including Tom Brady, Matt Smith and Dom Barrow in their starting XV
Tigers in 'A' League action
Welcome to Loughborough University for this evening's Premiership Rugby A League game between Tigers and Newcastle.