Joel Hodgson sends last-gasp drop-goal attempt wide as Leicester edge Newcastle
Newcastle fly-half Joel Hodgson missed a last-gasp drop goal as Leicester edged to a frenetic 14-13 Aviva Premiership win at Kingston Park.
After last week's horror show at Bath, Newcastle started with real purpose to lead 10-0 with an early try from Juan Pablo Socino plus a Mike Delany conversion and penalty.
The Falcons led for most of the match in front of a crowd of 6,750 but Mike Fitzgerald's try and three Freddie Burns' penalties gave Leicester the victory.
Scott Lawson got Newcastle on the front foot with a barrelling run into the Tigers half and in the sixth minute scrum-half Sonatane Takulua made a break and his pop pass sent in Socino under the posts and Delany converted.
Newcastle had the Tigers pack in trouble at the scrum but the penalty against the visitors seemed harsh and Delany's spiral kick into the corner set up a line-out and series of pick and drives which ended with Newcastle agonisingly spilling the ball right on the line.
Delany was then wide with a 45-metre penalty but bang on target when Simon Hammersley pressurised and Leicester were caught in possession in their own 22, with Burns penalised for hanging on and that made it 10-0 in the 16th minute.
Evan Olmstead's careless penalty opened the door for Leicester to go to the corner and Newcastle were struggling to hold the Tigers drive and eventually big lock Fitzgerald bounced Sinoti Sinoti off and scored in the corner in the 20th minute.
Burns missed the conversion but knocked over a 28th-minute penalty for Newcastle going over the ball to make it 10-8.
It looked as if Newcastle had scored again when Delany's clever chip bounced awkwardly and Socino seized on to it but was stopped a metre short. Newcastle piled in and Dominic Waldouck wriggled through for what the crowd thought was a try but referee J P Doyle, quite rightly, decided it was a Tigers penalty for a double movement by the centre.
Five minutes before the break Delany had the chance to extend the Falcons lead but hit the post with the penalty and Leicester were able to clear.
Leicester took the lead for the first time in the 50th minute with a penalty from Burns after Newcastle had been adjudged to have gone off their feet.
JP Pietersen's break-out looked to have given Leicester the opening they wanted but, once again, Newcastle's defence was exemplary and Rob Vickers stole a loose ball and the Falcons cleared.
Newcastle then conceded a penalty for collapsing a maul and although Burns missed the kick at goal from 45 metres, he landed one two minutes later to make it 14-10.
There was a close call for Leicester when Vereniki Goneva burst through and was stopped on the line before Sinoti sent lock Dan Temm over in the corner. Referee Doyle chalked off the try after watching the replay but gave Newcastle a penalty and sin-binned centre Peter Betham for preventing release, with Hodgson making it 14-13 with the penalty 10 minutes from time.
Newcastle mounted one last charge with a minute left on the clock but Will Witty could not hang on to Mark Wilson's desperate overhead pass inside the Tigers 22.
The Falcons had a scrum close to the Leicester line with time up and worked into a position for Hodgson to have a drop-goal attempt from right in front, only for the fly-half to send his effort wide.