George Ford kicked Leicester to victory in front of Eddie Jones as player and coach tried to move on from England’s Six Nations flop.
At a wind-blown Welford Road Ford was at his best with the boot as Tigers handed Newcastle their fourth straight Premiership loss.
But his 16-point maximum was overshadowed by what appeared to be an act of foul play from a team mate which went unpunished and left Falcons boss Dean Richards incensed.
Newcastle prop Jon Welsh had been wound up in a confrontation with England star Ellis Genge before kick-off.
And 13 minutes into the game he was again the target, this time of a side-entry clear-out by Jasper Wiese which put him out of the game a with a dislocated shoulder.
Richards raged: “The guy comes from the side, there’s a leg lift and he’s dislocated his shoulder.
“We’ll be seeking clarity on whether that would be construed as foul play, coming in from the side, hitting somebody off the ball when he’s at his most vulnerable.”
Referee Karl Dickson missed the incident and to add insult to injury for Newcastle, play restarted with a scrum from which Hanro Liebenberg gave Tigers a lead they would not relinquish.
“I think Dean’s got a massive point about Welsh,” said England star turned TV pundit Ugo Monye. “As a Director of Rugby you want to look after your players. I totally get it.
“This is not a witch hunt against any one player, this is about player protection, player safety and there was no player safety there was there.”
Wiese, playing his first game after serving a four-week ban, was later yellow carded for a dangerous shoulder as Leicester were reduced to 13 men for a time.
Fortunately for Tigers Ford kept a clear head throughout, extending Leicester’s lead to 16-0 at half-time and then using the wind to launch spiral bombs which kept Falcons at bay.
“In the second half the wind was a telling factor and I thought George Ford kicked particularly well,” said Richards, who knew the game was up when the fly-half converted Charlie Clare’s late try.
LEICESTER – Tries: Liebenberg, Clare. Cons: Ford 2. Pens: Ford 4.
NEWCASTLE – Tries: Welch, Stuart. Con: Connon.
* Lions star Jamie George scored a try on his debut in English rugby’s second division as Saracens won 32-3 at Richmond to move third in the Championship.
Louis Rees-Zammit has been shortlisted for Player of the Six Nations for his four-try contribution to Wales’ title win. Also nominated are Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Robbie Henshaw and Tadhg Beirne (both Ireland), Antoine Dupont (France) and Hamish Watson (Scotland).