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Fijian winger called Vereniki Goneva looks like find of the season for Leicester Tigers


The foundations for Leicester Tigers' success on the pitch are often built thousands of miles away from Welford Road.

There will be no sign of a bloke called Ged Glynn on the podium if Tigers lift the Aviva Premiership trophy next May.

Few people outside the club's inner sanctum will have even heard of a man, in his mid-50s, who used to play fly-half for Orrell.

But Glynn became the club's chief scout when Dusty Hare upped sticks to Northampton Saints and his network was responsible for Tigers spotting the talents of a Fijian winger called Vereniki Goneva sometime last season.

A small club called Tarbes in the French second division is hardly the place you would expect stars of the English league to be plucked from.

But Leicester did just that. Glynn did the ground work, director of rugby Richard Cockerill flew over to speak to him and the winger duly signed on the dotted line.

Five games into his Tigers career, Goneva has six tries and is looking like one of the hottest properties in the northern hemisphere, let alone England.

His 42nd-minute score in Leicester's 34-26 win over Worcester showcased his power as he barged through the considerable weight of Warriors lock James Percival and former Tigers fly-half Andy Goode to touch down.

But the rest of Goneva's game was just as electric. His David Campese-like goose-step had the crowd gasping for air, his quick feet can make space where none exists and his pace and ability to shrug off tackles created one of the most exciting highlights the Premiership will see all season on 12 minutes.

Collecting a chip kick from fellow south sea islander David Lemi, the 28-year-old raced off at pace through the middle of a host of would-be tacklers.

Some laid a finger on him, others got nowhere near, as he jinked and jolted his way through five or six Worcester players.

There was still plenty of work for Tuilagi to do before he finished off Goneva's earlier moves and, when the 21-year-old centre dived over, Welford Road was in raptures.

At that stage, Tigers led 14-3 after 12 minutes and it looked like Worcester would be systematically put to the sword having never won on Leicester soil.

Tigers had already scored a sensational second-minute try when Tuilagi was again the man to dive over the line.

The ball had gone through seven pairs of hands in a wonderful build-up reminiscent of the All Blacks in their pomp and the move was marked by some lovely lines of attack.

Where did it all begin? With that man Goneva again as he tackled and then stole the ball from a Warriors attacker in his own half.

Flood and Goode swapped penalties to make it 17-6 but Worcester dug in and turned the game on its head.

As they found their feet based around a physical pack and some ambitious backs' play, led by Goode, Tigers' game regressed.

Goode closed the gap to 17-9 at the break as Leicester forced too many passes and got dragged into niggly exchanges by a visiting side clearly getting under their skin.

Goneva's try at the start of the second period hinted at better things, especially with Chris Pennell in the sin bin.

But Worcester came back again, revitalised by a new attack coach from Biarritz and some ammunition behind the scrum they simply never had last season.

When David Lemi ran 50 metres from a breakaway score and Goode nailed the extras, it was 22-16.

Shaun Perry became the second man to see yellow on 51 minutes but Tigers continued making mistakes until they finally put the game to bed with a penalty try on 65 minutes.

They turned down an easy three points to go for the jugular and it paid dividends at the Warriors' pack popped up on the line and referee Andrew Small went under the posts.

There was still time for Graham Kitchener with a try against his old club before Alex Grove touched down Goode's gorgeous chip kick with the last action of the game.

Fijian winger called Vereniki Goneva looks like find of the season for Leicester Tigers

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