White sets the tone for Tigers' raiding party

Newcastle 15 Leicester 44
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The Independent Online

The Tigers had it in the bag by half-time, even though they only led 17-7.

It would have taken John Wayne in his pomp to have rounded up all the rustlers in the Leicester pack at Kingston Park on Saturday; and even then the big man might not have achieved it. There was never a chance Newcastle would.

A while ago Rob Andrew, Newcastle's director of rugby, declared: "Ian Peel has been playing out of his skin". By half-time Peel was taken off, fortunate to be left with any skin after the comprehensive going over he received from the Tigers' tight-head, Julian White. Not that his replacement, Micky Ward, fared any better. Much the same could be said for the rest of the Falcons' forwards, who were a sorry sight by the end of this technically engrossing but dull match. The Tigers had it in the bag by half-time, even though they only led 17-7.

Michael Stephenson had scored a peach of a try, courtesy of Jonny Wilkinson's brilliant pass from behind his back and Epi Taione's take. Is there no limit to the boy Wilkinson's skills? At times it seems unfair for other mortals to be compared to him. It was one of only two high points in the Falcons' depressing afternoon. The other try came within three minutes of an out-of-sorts Dave Walder being replaced by the latest in a long line of outstanding young backs, Mathew Tait. We shall hear a lot more of Tait; that's for sure. As we will of a rejuvenated Leicester, who look good value for their ranking as favourites for the title. Afterwards, John Wells, their head coach, was full of praise for his team. "It's been a good day," purred Wells. "Since I've been coaching the side, that was the best they've played. What was so pleasing was the way our youngsters fronted up after our midweek injury crisis."

Geordan Murphy got them going, latching on to Ross Broadfoot's deft grubber. As the Newcastle pack disintegrated, the Tigers' forwards claimed a penalty try. There was no way back for the Falcons after that humiliation despite Tait's splendid intervention. Tries by Seru Rabeni (two), Martin Corry and Neil Back finished the job in style.

Newcastle: Tries Stephenson, Tait; Conversion Wilkinson; Penalty Wilkinson. Leicester Tries Murphy, penalty try, Rabeni 2, Back, Corry; Conversions Broadfoot 2, Murphy 2 Penalties Broadfoot, Murphy.

Newcastle: D Walder (M Tait, 66); T May, J Noon, E Taione, M Stephenson; J Wilkinson (co-capt), H Charlton (J Grindal, 58); I Peel (co-capt, M Ward, h-t), A Long, M Hurter (J Isaacson, 76), L Gross, M McCarthy (S Grimes, 57), C Charvis, E Williamson, S Sititi (G Parling, 80).

Leicester: S Vesty; G Murphy, S Rabeni (A Tuilagi, 78), O Smith, J Holtby; R Broadfoot (M Cornwell, h-t), H Ellis; G Rowntree (D Morris, 70), G Chuter, J White, M Johnson (capt, B Kay, 55), L Deacon, B Deacon (W Johnson, 80), N Back, M Corry.

Referee: R Maybank (Kent).

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