Leicester ruin Dean Richards' swansong as Nic Dolly suffers horror injury

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Leicester ruin Dean Richards' Newcastle swansong as Nic Dolly suffers horror injury - GETTY IMAGES
Leicester ruin Dean Richards' Newcastle swansong as Nic Dolly suffers horror injury - GETTY IMAGES

Newcastle Falcons 5 Leicester Tigers 27

Nic Dolly suffered a horrific knee injury which looks certain to have wrecked the hooker’s hopes of touring his native Australia with England this summer.

The Sydney-born 22-year-old, who was this week named in a 36-man England squad for a three-day training camp which begins on Sunday, was left badly hurt following a “crocodile roll” by Adam Brocklebank at the breakdown.

The Falcons prop was sent to the sin-bin for the challenge and Dolly, who has enjoyed an outstanding campaign for Steve Borthwick’s side, was carried off on a stretcher.

Tigers head coach Borthwick said of the injury to Dolly’s left knee: “It looks like Nic’s been hurt reasonably seriously. We will have to get it scanned asap and he will see the best guys to make sure he’s back on the field as soon as possible.

“He’s in pain right now but, as a player, when you understand what the injury is and what the plan for it is, you can start putting targets on your rehab. We need to get the clarity as soon as possible. He’s been really good for us this season, but I know he will work exceptionally hard to come back an even better player.”

The match marked Dean Richards’ final home game in charge of the Falcons and a crowd of 8,015, the biggest at Kingston Park since April 2019, turned out to bid him a low-key farewell.

The uncompromising director of rugby, who could take up a consultancy role at the club, left team affairs and post-match media duties to Dave Walder, who will succeed him in the top job.

Walder, the former Newcastle fly-half, said: “Deano’s been an enormous presence, literally and metaphorically, and kept the club going at times through some pretty tough times on and off the pitch. “It would have been nice for him to have finished at home with a win. “I’m proud of the performance, but disappointed with the result.”

Leicester’s hulking Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo showed brute force to barrel through the Newcastle defence and over the line to open the scoring and cap the visitors’ bright start.

Try-scorer Nemani Nadolo (right) is congratulated by team-mates George Ford and Richard Wigglesworth - GETTY IMAGES
Try-scorer Nemani Nadolo (right) is congratulated by team-mates George Ford and Richard Wigglesworth - GETTY IMAGES

Leicester had their hosts right where they wanted them and George Ford booted a penalty in the 21st minute. In the 28th minute, Brocklebank was sin-binned for his challenge on Dolly after intervention from TMO Hamish Smales. The full weight of Brocklebank fell on Dolly and he was taken off on a stretcher.

Seven minutes before the interval, Adam Radwan embarked on a searing break inside the right channel, showing delightful footwork and speed to dart past a couple of leaden-footed Leicester defenders before his pass to Joel Hodgson was knocked on by the Falcons fly-half.

That gave Richards’ team the belief that, if they backed themselves, they might just be good enough to breach Leicester’s defence.

Sure enough, Newcastle quickly built several phases inside the Tigers’ 22-metre line, only to be denied by some obstinate defending and held up twice over the line.

The Falcons upped the tempo after the restart and Michael Young’s impish break found Josh Basham, who seemed certain to score, only to be denied by Ford’s terrific saving tackle.

In the 50th minute, however, Newcastle finally scored when George McGuigan, who will join the England squad today  with team-mate Jamie Blamire, barrelled over in the left corner. But a penalty from Ford gave Leicester breathing space and the fly-half then sent centre Guy Porter over to score.

Late on, Freddie Steward touched down a clever kick from Ford in the right corner, securing a victory which took Leicester a huge step closer towards clinching top spot ahead of the play-offs.

Borthwick added: “It was a tough game and Newcastle played very well. We knew we were going to have to play for 80 minutes to get the win we wanted. When Newcastle put us under pressure, we came back even stronger in the final 30 minutes.”

Match details

Scoring sequence: 0-5 Nadolo try, 0-7 Ford con, 0-10 Ford pen, 5-10 McGuigan try, 5-13 Ford pen, 5-18 Porter try, 5-20 Ford con, 5-25 Steward try, 5-27 Ford con.

Newcastle Falcons: A Tait (I Stephens 72); A Radwan, M Orlando (W Haydon-Wood 66), L Burrell, M Carreras; J Hodgson, M Young (C Nordli-Kelemeti52); A Brocklebank (L Mulipola 61), G McGuigan (Blamire 69), T Davison (M Tampin61), G Peterson (C Fearns 64), P van der Walt (F Lockwood 15), G Graham, J Basham, C Chick.

Leicester Tigers: F Steward; C Ashton (F Burns 64), M Moroni (M Scott 51), G Porter, N Nadolo; G Ford, R Wigglesworth (J van Poortvliet 55); E Genge (N Leatigaga 72), N Dolly (C Clare 29), D Cole (J Heyes 55), O Chessum, H Wells (C Henderson 72), G Martin (T Reffell 51), H Liebenberg, J Wiese.

Referee: A Woodthorpe.

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