Goneva hat-trick helps Leicester beat Newcastle

Fijian winger Vereniki Goneva scored a hat-trick of tries to help Leicester Tigers to a 36-17 Premiership victory over Newcastle Falcons at Welford Road on Saturday.

The Tigers were looking to lay down an early marker following last year’s semi-final
disappointment, while the Falcons were out to prove they can be more than relegation-strugglers.

An evenly-contested first half suggested the Falcons might be able to do just
that.

Neither side could breach their opponents’ try-line, but it was the Tigers
who headed into the break with a decent lead, thanks to four Freddie Burns penalties.

But the visitors also acquitted themselves well and held their line in tact
despite heavy pressure for sustained periods. Juan Pablo Socino’s three-pointer
got them off the mark just shy of the half hour, and they headed into the break
with the win still within reach.

And when Richard Mayhew crossed the line just seconds after the restart, the
upset was on.

But a ruthless response from the defending champions in the minutes that followed
put paid to any hopes of an first-round shock.

Goneva grabbed his first just three minutes later when he snapped up Manu Tuilagi’s
deflected offload. Burns was wide with the conversion, but he was on target
less than ten minutes later after providing the assist for Goneva’s second.

And Goneva completed a remarkable 17-minute hat-trick just after the hour when
he turned defence into attack with an intercept, and had the pace to stream
away from the scrambling Newcastle defence to score.

David Mele then benefited from clever play by Robert Barbieri to put the result
beyond doubt, before Newcastle’s Andy Saull claimed a consolation try following
a well-executed catch and drive.

Final Score Leicester (12) 36 Newcastle (3) 17

Scorers

Leicester
Tries: Goneva 3, Mele
Pens: Burns 4 Cons: Burns 2

Newcastle
Tries: Mayhew, Saull
Pens: Socino Cons: Socino 2

Match Officials
Referee:
Luke Pearce (27th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Andy Watson and Nigel Carrick.
TMO: David Grashoff.

Teams

Leicester Tigers

15 Niall Morris, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi , 12 Seremaia Bai, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs (c), 1 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 3 Fraser Balmain, 4 Sebastian De Chaves, 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Jamie Gibson, 7 Julian Salvi, 8 Jordan Crane

Replacements, 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Tiziano Pasquali,19 Robert Barbieri, 20 Christian Loamanu, 21 David Mele, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Matt Smith.

Newcastle Falcons

1. Rob Vickers, 2. George McGuigan, 3. Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4. Calum Green, 5. Josh Furno, 6. Richard Mayhew, 7. Will Welch (c), 8. Ally Hogg, 9. Mike Blair, 10. Phil Godman, 11. Noah Cato, 12. Juan Pablo Socino, 13. Adam Powell, 14. Sinoti Sinoti, 15. Simon Hammersley.

Replacements : 16. Scott Lawson, 17. Alex Rogers (on loan), 18. Kieran Brookes, 19. Dom Barrow, 20. Andy Saull, 21. Ruki Tipuna, 22. Alex Tuilagi, 23. Gonzalo Tiesi

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