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Goneva hat-trick in opening day bonus win

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Vereniki Goneva scored a hat-trick as Leicester Tigers kicked off their Aviva Premiership campaign with a 36-17 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Welford Road.

Goneva, last season's Player of the Year and leading try-scorer, scored three second-half tries as Tigers secured a bonus-point win.

Goneva swooped on a loose ball after a bulldozing run by Manu Tuilagi for his first, finished off Freddie Burns' neat break for his second before racing the length of the field for an intercept hat-trick score.

David Mele grabbed the bonus-point score after excellent work at the base of a close-range scrum by Robert Barbieri, while Freddie Burns kicked 16 points on his Aviva Premiership debut for the club.

Tigers gave competitive debuts to summer signings Seremaia Bai and Burns in the backline and to hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini. Tom Croft was a late withdrawal, his place going to Jamie Gibson with another summer signing, Christian Loamanu, coming onto the bench. Barbieri was another of the new arrivals to be named among the replacements.

Falcons, who were coached by Dean Richards and John Wells, included former Tigers winger Alesana Tuilagi on the bench on his first return to Welford Road. Calum Green started in the second row and there was a place on the bench for Kieran Brookes.

Quick thinking by Ben Youngs, who captained the Tigers, had Leicester on the attack early in the game, his tap penalty giving Goneva the chance to test Noah Cato's defence. Tigers continued to target Cato with Bai then chipped ahead for Goneva to chase but the Newcastle wing mopped up 5m from his line.

Another delicate kick by Bai put Goneva in space on the left flank. He hacked ahead before being felled by the covering defender as Newcastle conceded the lineout 5m out.

Jordan Crane's ball off the top had Logovi'i Mulipola charging for the line but he was well tackled before Falcons went offside in front of their posts. Burns landed the penalty for Tigers' first points of the season and his first Aviva Premiership points in a Leicester shirt.

Sinoti Sinoti's angled run created space on the Newcastle right but when play came back inside Phil Godman ran into his lock Green to en a promising attack.

Newcastle were forced into a front-row replacement before the first scrum with Alex Rogers coming on for Rob Vickers. Tigers were awarded a penalty at the first scrum as the Newcastle pack wheeled round.

A trademark run by Mulipola had Welford Road buzzing and took Tigers 30m into the Falcons 22. However, his offload was knocked-on as Tigers flooded forward.

Oliver Tomaszcyk lost his footing at the resulting scrum, giving Burns a second penalty and the fly-half doubled Tigers' lead after 18 minutes.

Falcons threatened to score the game's first try as Godman freed his arms in the tackle to offload to the dangerous Sinoti. He was tackled 5m short by Blaine Scully before Crane conceded the penalty coming in at the side. Juan Pablo Socino landed the kick to leave Tigers 6-3 ahead after 23 minutes.

Alesana Tuilagi came on for Cato two minutes later to a rousing reception.

But it was the Tigers pack who had the next impact, winning a scrum penalty and Burns extended the lead to 9-3 12 minutes before the break.

A fourth Burns penalty, this time in front of the posts after Ally Hogg failed to roll from the tackle, gave Leicester a 12-3 lead at the break.

Newcastle flew out of the blocks at the start of the second period with full-back Simon Hammersley ghosting through a gap on the left of the Tigers defence. He had Richard Mayhew on his shoulder to score unopposed. Converted by Socino, it left Tigers 12-10 ahead a minute after the restart.

Tigers responded immediately. Quick passing created a half gap for Manu Tuilagi on the left. He offloaded out of the tackle just short of the line and the ball was knocked behind his line by tackler Godman and Goneva swooped on the loose ball to score Tigers' first try of the season. It went unconverted as Tigers led 17-10.

Tom Youngs replaced Ghiraldini before a second try for Goneva followed 10 minutes into the second half.

Burns was the creator, stepping off his right foot and through a gap before finding Goneva to force his way past last-man Hammersley and over the next to the posts. Burns added the conversion to extend the Leicester lead to 24-10.

Burns then combined with Morris to halt Josh Furno's dangerous break into the 22 and earn the penalty.

Falcons threatened again from a lineout. Sinoti latched onto Green's clean ball and his angled run created an overlap on the left. However, he knocked on as he tried to slip a grubber behind the Tigers defence.

Falcons continued to press and had the Tigers defence stretched on the right. However, Goneva picked off Ruki Tipuna's pass on his own line and then raced the length of the field, holding off the chasing Sinoti, for his hat-trick try. Burns landed a testing conversion from the left to move Tigers into a 31-10 lead.

Bai turned the Falcons defence with a chip ahead and Adam Powell, under pressure from Scully, conceded the 5m scrum. Tigers had the Falcons pack under pressure and with replacement No8 Robert Barbieri controlling the ball at the base, David Mele swooped for the bonus-point score.

Newcastle scored their second try as the game ticked into the final 10 minutes with a well-worked lineout drive, replacement Andy Saull eventually applying the finish. And Socino landed the touchline conversion for the final points of the afternoon.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 12-3 NEW

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 36-17 NEW

Attendance

22,639

Referee

Luke Pearce

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
36

Full Time

Newcastle Falcons
Newcastle Falcons
17

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Newcastle Falcons
Possession
67%
33%
Territory
0%
0%
Penalties Conceded
10
13
Yellow Cards
0
0
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
118/142 83%
85/94 90%
Scrums Won
10/11 91%
3/6 50%
Lineouts Won
11/11 0%
13/13 0%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Niall Morris
14Blaine Scully
13Manu Tuilagi
12Seremaia Bai
11Vereniki Goneva3T
102C4P
9Ben Youngs
1Logovi'i Mulipola
2Leonardo Ghiraldini
3Fraser Balmain
4
5Graham Kitchener
6Jamie Gibson
7Julian Salvi
8
16Tom Youngs
17Tom Bristow
18Tiziano Pasquali
19Robert Barbieri
20Christian Loamanu
21David Mele1T
22Owen Williams
23Matt Smith

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

Niall Morris
15
Niall Morris
Blaine Scully
14
Blaine Scully
Seremaia Bai
12
Seremaia Bai
Vereniki Goneva
11
Vereniki Goneva
10
Leonardo Ghiraldini
2
Leonardo Ghiraldini
Fraser Balmain
3
Fraser Balmain
4
Jamie Gibson
6
Jamie Gibson
Julian Salvi
7
Julian Salvi
8

Subs

Tom Bristow
17
Tom Bristow
Tiziano Pasquali
18
Tiziano Pasquali
Robert Barbieri
19
Robert Barbieri
Christian Loamanu
20
Christian Loamanu
David Mele
21
David Mele
Owen Williams
22
Owen Williams

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

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

Subs

16
Scott Lawson
17
18
Kieran Brookes
19
Dom Barrow
20
Andy Saull
21
Ruki Tipuna
22
Alesana Tuilagi
23
Gonzalo Tiesi
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
3
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI2215164534213237394268
11
Newcastle Falcons
Newcastle FalconsNEW225116475545-7057614834
Form Guide
Form
WLWLW
Last Match
Beat Wasps 38-31
Past Meeting
Won 39-15
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WWLWL
Last Match
Lost to Harlequins 26-54
Past Meeting
Lost 15-39

Matchday Live

Leicester Tigers36
Leicester Tigers
Newcastle Falcons17
Newcastle Falcons
Full Time