Leicester reclaimed the summit of the Premiership courtesy of a thumping 31-7 win over the relegation-threatened Newcastle.
Leicester reclaimed the Guinness Premiership summit courtesy of a thumping 31-7 win over the relegation-threatened Falcons on Sunday.
The Falcons were shorn of their full front row before kick-off and it showed as Leicester secured the four-try bonus point in just over half an hour.
The Tigers were happy to sit on their 28-0 half-time lead and run their bench in the second half, while Newcastle showed much more fight scoring a try through Charlie Amesbury.
Carl Hayman (back), Jon Golding (ankle), Rob Vickers (neck) all failed late fitness tests, as did full-back Alex Tait (hip), but it was the loss of their first-choice front row which severely hampered the Falcons, who were comprehensively destroyed up front.
The game as a contest was over in just over half an hour with the Tigers running in four converted tries.
Newcastle had an early chance to open the scoring but Tom Catterick, briefly on as a blood replacement for Jimmy Gopperth, was short with a penalty kick at goal in the ninth minute.
The Tigers pack destroyed the Newcastle scrum but Toby Flood put the penalty wide in the 13th minute.
They did it again to turn over a Newcastle put-in five metres out and a back-row pick-up and drive ended with Lewis Moody scoring near the post and Flood converted for a 7-0 lead after 20 minutes.
It was quickly 14-0 with relentless pressure from Leicester ending with a Geoff Parling charge and Ben Youngs floated pass putting Johne Murphy over the in the corner and Flood converting from wide out in the 24th minute.
Not only were Newcastle under the cosh in the scrum, they lost their third line-out in a row on their own throw and a high kick had the Falcons defence floundering with Flood cruising through under the posts and converting for 21-0 after just 28 minutes.
Moody then shrugged off ineffectual tackling to grab his second after 34 minutes and again Flood converted.
The second half was a different story with substitute Hall Charlton, Josh Afu and Mark Sorenson making big inroads for Newcastle.
When Gcobani Bobo cleverly kicked wide and the bounce wrong-footed Scott Hamilton, Charlie Amesbury scored a 48th-minute try which Gopperth converted to make it 28-7.
Leicester were content to run their bench as Newcastle made a better fist of their defence but the Falcons conceded a penalty in the 68th minute for Jeremy Staunton to make it 31-7 and the Tigers were happy to settle for that scoreline.
For Newcastle Falcons:
For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Moody 2, J Murphy, Flood
Cons: Flood 4
Newcastle Falcons: 15 ACharlie Amesbury, 14 Danny Williams, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Mickey Young, 8 Josh Afu, 7 Ed Williamson, 6 Brent Wilson, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Micky Ward, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Laurence Ovens.
Replacements: 116 Alex Walker, 17 Kieran Brookes, 18 Grant Shiells, 19 James Hudson, 20 Will Welch, 21 Filipo Levi, 22 Hall Charlton, 23 Tom Catterick.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy (capt), 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Mefin Davies, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Ben Kay, 20 Craig Newby, 21 James Grindal, 22 Jeremy Staunton, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
Referee: Chris White