Leicester (17) 31 Newcastle (8) 18.
G Murphy 15 S Legg
L Lloyd 14 J Nayor
S Potter 13 M Shaw
J Stuart 12 J Wilkinson
D Lougheed 11 V Tuigamala
P Howard 10 R Andrew
A Healey 9 G Armstrong
D Jelley 1 G Graham
R***erill 2 R Nesdale
D Garforth 3 M Hurter
M Johnson (c) 4 G Archer
F Van Heerden 5 D Weir
P Gustard 6 P Walton
N Back 7 R Arnold
M Corry 8 R Beattie
Conditions: Soft pitch, rain, little wind.
Attendance: Approx. 13,000.
Referee: Steve Lander.
After the e***ments of the recent internationals, both sides made a
large number of errors on their return to league rugby, with neither
starting line-up quite what they wanted.
Newcastle were without Ryan: their inspirational number 8 and captain
won't play again this season having had an operation to fuse two
vertebrae. Tony Underwood and Nick Popplewell were also out injured.
Leicester fielded Howard, recently returned from a broken jaw and
doubtful with a hip injury, at fly half in place of the injured
Stransky. They were also missing Greenwood and Ezulike in the backs,
and had Potter playing his first league game for two months. Lougheed
made his first league start. However, their first choice pack was
The main reason for the generally poor standard of the game was
probably that the sides hadn't played together for approaching a
month, and that showed. After the game, the Leicester players asked
the coaches if they could fit in an extra training session next
Tuesday - possibly before Deano demanded it.
Leicester had the best of the early moments. When Walton knocked on
following a Newcastle lineout in the Leicester 22, Murphy was given
some space on the right and kicked ahead. A try looked certain as
Lloyd and Murphy outpaced the Newcastle defenders, but neither could
apply downward pressure, and Newcastle escaped with a scrum for a
Leicester continued in enterprising but slapdash vein in the Newcastle
22 until the visitors killed the ball, and the inevitable kick for an
attacking lineout led to a Van Heerden take and a drive-over try for
Back, converted by Murphy (7-0, 6 minutes). Shortly after Tuigamala
got the ball and showed himself very sluggish as Potter pulled him
down comfortably enough. Leicester continued in the driving seat with
territorial advantage, but were unable to punish Newcastle as two
penalties from 40 and 22m were missed by Murphy.
Even Lander, in lenient mood at the line-out, couldn't allow a crooked
throw from***erill, and from the resulting scrum Nesdale drove well.
Leicester were penalised for offside backs (7-3, 17 minutes,
Wilkinson). Healey kicked a penalty to give Leicester an attacking
line-out, and Murphy increased the lead for offside (10-3, 22
Cockerill and Van Heerden both left the restart to the other, and for
the only time in the game Tuigamala broke the gain-line following an
inside pass, and Andrew found Legg on the overlap for the full back to
score in the left corner, Wilkinson just missing the conversion (10-8,
Newcastle were unable to press their come-back in the second quarter
as Archer and then Arnold were penalised for foul play, but Leicester,
although on the attack, were unable to capitalise - the closest they
came was when Stuart charged down an Andrew kick, releasing Potter,
but Andrew just made the covering tackle to make amends. A minute into
injury time, by way of variety, Leicester won a lineout this time on
the right 5m out, and Back was driven over, Murphy again converting
(17-8) to give a fairly meagre lead at the break considering their
edge up front and territorial advantage.
Leicester tried to liven the game up early in the second half, however
a quick line-out following a Newcastle relieving kick saw Corry
penalised for holding the ball in the tackle, and Wilkinson hit a good
penalty from 5m inside the Leicester half (17-11, 43 minutes).
Leicester began to lose concentration as Naylor ran back a Healey bomb
and was allowed to break a few tackles, the home side only saved when
Lloyd intercepted a pass with Newcastle enjoying a two man overlap.
Howard, who'd had a quiet first half, then began to make some
expensive mistakes, knocking on and kicking badly, and Murphy had to
make a great mark from Andrew's bomb to relieve some pressure despite
Arnold being sin-binned. Then, just when it seemed Leicester had
weathered a mini-squall from Newcastle, Murphy (I think) had a
clearance kick from a scrum charged down by Andrew. Andrew just
managed to touch down before the ball went dead, though the Welford
crowd were in some doubt he'd made it. Shades of Lam's first try in
the corresponding game last season (17-18, 60 minutes).
Rowntree and West replaced Jelley and***erill, and Murphy regained
the lead for Leicester on 62 minutes (20-18). Stimpson then came on
for Howard, clearly suffering from his hip injury, and Murphy moved up
to fly half. The final quarter was easily the most competitive of the
game, as Newcastle realised the game was by no means beyond their
reach. Leicester also raised their game, with Van Heerden and Johnson
starting to take some of the visitor's line-out ball, Healey playing
possibly his most controlled kicking rugby since coming to Leicester,
and Lougheed driving hard into the tackle. Stimpson slotted goals on
37 and 42 minutes (26-18). Newcastle were then caught at the death
with Andrew's kick being charged down by Potter, who did well to get
the ball out to Stuart for an unconverted try in the left corner
(31-18 full time).
Not a high quality game, but there was plenty to keep the crowd
interested, not least the fact Newcastle might well have pulled away
to win in the final quarter. In the end though the Leicester locks won
more than their share of the ball, and the home side's discipline and
fewer errors held sway. Doubtless Newcastle will kick themselves for a
chance lost, but over the whole of the game they can certainly have no
Andrew tried to control the game for Newcastle with his boot, but his
pack were shaded throughout the game. With Lam and Ryan in the team,
the strategy might have been successful, but with Armstrong
comparatively quiet and little zip in the backs when ball was
recycled, they were perhaps fortunate to be a point ahead going into
the final quarter.
Leicester looked like a team getting to know themselves again. Van
Heerden was my man of the match for pressurising Weir in the lineout
(often with***erill throwing very long), and putting in a fine
performance around the field. If he maintains form like that, South
Africa could do worse than select him for their world cup squad.
Apparently he will be playing in SA next summer to attempt to get into
the WC team.
Howard didn't shine at fly-half, and with Stransky out for a month or
so, will need to gain confidence very quickly if Leicester aren't to
All the best