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ROUND 20 | PREVIEW | Leicester Tigers vs Newcastle Falcons

By Thomas Branston


Welford Road (Kick-off 3pm)

Referee: Ian Tempest

Assistant Referees: Steve Lee, Tim Wigglesworth

TMO: David Sainsbury


Leicester Tigers led against Bath going into the final quarter of their Round 19 Aviva Premiership match but were undone by an Anthony Watson brace in ‘The Clash’ at Twickenham Stadium last time out.

Tigers have lost two of their last six Aviva Premiership matches, at home to Exeter in round 17 and against Bath at Twickenham last weekend and Matt O’Connors men have not lost successive home matches in the tournament since October 2011.

Newcastle Falcons narrowly beat Gloucester with a 16-14 victory at Kingston Park last Friday to end a three game losing run in Aviva Premiership. The Falcons have won just three times on the road this season, twice in Premiership, at Gloucester in round 4 and at Northampton in round 9.

Newcastle have had a tough time in recent years against Tigers only beating them once in the last eight years, a 26-14 victory at Kingston Park in February 2016. The Falcons only previous victory at Welford Road in Premiership Rugby was 25-19 on 30 December 1997, which was Newcastle’s current Director of Rugby Dean Richards’ last game playing for Tigers.

Last time these two sides met in the Aviva Premiership was back in Round 3, Tigers won by the skin of their teeth with a 14-13 at Kingston Park. Freddie Burns scored three crucial penalties to give Leicester the lead after a Fitzgerald try and a Socino score for the hosts. Hodgson then converted a late penalty to bring the score within a point and the fly-half agonisingly missed a final drop goal from close-range as clock went dead.


Leicester Tigers | 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs (c); 1 Ellis Genge, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Dom Barrow, 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Mike Williams, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 8 Luke Hamilton

Replacements | 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Mike Fitzgerald, 20 Harry Thacker, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Mathew Tait

Newcastle Falcons | 15 Marcus Watson, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young; 1 Rob Vickers, 2 Kyle Cooper, 3 David Wilson, 4 Calum Green, 5 Evan Olmstead, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Nili Latu

Replacements | 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Will Witty, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Zach Kibirige

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Aviva Premiership Round Up

By Thomas Branston

Saracens 40-19 Harlequins

Saracens guaranteed themselves a playoff spot after hammering Harlequins in front of 71,324 at Wembley Stadium. Chris Ashton impressed as he scored his fifth try in three games as Saracens kept the pressure on Wasps and Exeter Chiefs at the top of the table.

Defeat for Quins means they remain five points adrift of the play-off spots in sixth, with fourth-placed Leicester and Bath equal on points.

Bath 27-21 Leicester Tigers

Anthony Watson stole the headlines as he scored two late tries as Bath came from behind to beat Leicester at Twickenham.

In front of almost 62,000 fans, in their ‘home game’, Bath trailed 21-13 with just 14 minutes left but Watson had the final say to help secure victory.

Bath remain fifth, but move level on points with fourth-placed Leicester, with three games left, although the Tigers appear to have the easier run-in.

Wasps 32-30 Northampton Saints

Matt Mullan scored a last-minute try to secure a thrilling victory over Northampton at the Ricoh Arena.

Tries by Ben Foden, Alex Waller and George North put the visitors ahead, and Elliot Daly crossed to keep Wasps in touching distance at half-time. Christian Wade and Joe Simpson went over to give the hosts the lead before Ahsee Tuala and Teimana Harrisson crossed for Saints, but Mullan drove over and Gopperth clinched victory.

Wasps are already assured of a place in the play-offs and remain at the summit of the table. Saints are five points off fourth place but have a difficult run-in.

Exeter Chiefs 38-34 Bristol

Thomas Waldrom scored two second half-tries to ensure that Exeter will play a second consecutive year in the Premiership play-offs with a dramatic victory over relegation-threatened Bristol.

Exeter remain in second-place five points behind Wasps whilst Bristol remain eight points behind Worcester at the bottom of the table.

Newcastle Falcons 16 Gloucester Rugby 14

Newcastle Falcons edged past Gloucester on Friday night with a last-gasp Joel Hodgson penalty kick to secure a dramatic victory.

The sides were tied at 7-7 at half-time after England wing Jonny May cancelled out Juan Pablo Socino’s try. Tom Marshall scored for the visitors in-between two Hodgson penalties, but Hodgson then slotted a third penalty with seconds left to win the game for Newcastle.

Gloucester remain six points adrift of the European rugby places behind Northampton and Harlequins whilst Falcons moved to within a point of Gloucester with the win.

Sale Sharks 36 Worcester Warriors 26

Man of the Match Sam James scored two tries as Sale beat Worcester, who managed to pick up a crucial four-try bonus-point in the battle to avoid Premiership relegation.

James’ brace followed by Mike Haley’s effort just before the break put Sale 21-14 up, with Worcester’s tries coming from Francois Hougaard and Joseph Taufete’e. But second-half Bryon McGuigan and Ben Curry tries ensured victory for Sale.

Worcester move to eight points clear of Bristol in the relegation zone whilst Sale Sharks remain 12 points adrift from the European places.