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Error earns Tigers draw

Leicester 16-16 Newcastle

By Ben Blackmore  

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Guinness Premiership, Welford Road, Friday October 14

An error by the touch judges earned Leicester a 16-16 draw against Newcastle after a fiery clash at Welford Road that featured a string of injuries, two sin-binnings and red cards for Julian White and Andy Perry.

But the most controversial moment of the contest came after 46 minutes when Andy Goode's conversion attempt flew wide of the left-hand upright and the touch judges raised their flags.

The Falcons would have settled for a point after February's 83-10 mauling by the Tigers on the same venue, but are entitled to feel harshly done by.

In a game which had virtually everything - apart from any sustained spell of quality rugby - there was also an injury scare for Jonny Wilkinson, who received lengthy treatment after a marginally late hit from Leicester scrum-half Harry Ellis.

Wilkinson continued for the rest of the match but had to hand the kicking duties over to full-back Matt Burke - who missed with a late long range penalty from in front of the posts that the former England fly-half would surely have slotted.

As early as the fourth minute Wilkinson demonstrated his kicking skills, dropping a goal with the same right foot that won the World Cup after a penalty attempt rebounded off the posts.

Andy Goode replied with two penalties for Leicester, although Wilkinson had levelled the scores at 6-6 before taking a powerful tackle from Ellis as he cleared his lines.

Referee Tony Spreadbury awarded a penalty where the ball went out and Burke put Newcastle ahead.

Wilkinson stayed on, but a groggy Graham Rowntree went off after the veteran prop took a blow to the head from Andy Perry.

On 35 minutes Goode was yellow carded for an elbow to - who else? - Wilkinson and moments later Spreadbury had the same card out for Andy Long for playing the ball on the ground.

Tempers were becoming increasingly frayed and just a minute later Julian White and Perry were sent off following a mass brawl.

With more than 15 minutes of interruptions, Burke mised a penalty attempt from in front on the stroke of half time and the visitors went in 9-6 ahead.

Leicester started the second half fast, forcing Newcastle into 23 tackles in the first five minutes before Ollie Smith went over from close range, only for the video referee to rule he was held up.

A minute later leicester got the try their presure deserved as Dan Hipkiss held off a tackle from Tom May and James Hamilton scooped up the ball and placed it over the try line. There was a strong suspicion of a knock-on, but this time Spreadbury decided against going to the video ref.

Goode aded the extras - or rather he didn't - and following a Goode penalty that did split the uprights, Leicester led 16-9.

Newcastle finally started to show some invention in the backs in the final quarter and Jamie Noone bombed a chance to go over beneath the sticks after Burke's beak.

On 69 minutes a flowing move in the backs ended in Mike McCarthy's cut-out pass for Robbie Morris to side-step inside and score in the corner.

Burke's touchline conversion levelled the scores and both sides had chances to win it late on, Goode screwing a drop-goal attempt wide and Burke hooking a penalty shot from just inside the Leicester half.

A draw was probably a fair result, but when they see the video of Goode's 'conversion', Newcastle are unlikely to agree.

Leicester: (6) 16
Tries: Hamilton
Cons: Goode
Pens: Goode 3

Newcastle: (9) 16
Tries: Morris
Cons: Burke
Pens: Wilkinson, Burke
Drops: Wilkinson

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