Tigers secure 10th straight semi-final

Niki Goneva showing his pace and power. Tiger Images EMN-140324-133051001
Niki Goneva showing his pace and power. Tiger Images EMN-140324-133051001
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Niki Goneva capped a fine week with his 12th league try of the season to strectch his lead as the Aviva Premiership’s top try scorer and help Leicester secure a 10th successive semi-final.

Earlier in the week Goneva, who has just agreed a new contract at the club, was named the Player of the Year at the supporters awards night.

He beat the outstanding Jamie Gibson, Ed Slater, Tom Youngs and the 2013 winner Julian Salvi to the award.

The Fijian winger has also been named on the Aviva Premiership six man shortlist for player of the season.

Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill is on the shortlist for best manager.

Goneva, who has played at centre for much of the season with Manu Tuilagi missing through injury, said: “It is a privilege to win this honour. There are lots of big players and very good players at this club, I’m humbled by this award. I thank all of the supporters and my team-mates.”

On Saturday Leicester beat Sale Sharks 42-22 in front of a record crowd at the AG Bell Stadium.

Tigers scored six tries to secure the bonus-point win which guarantees a top-four finish; who Leicester will play will be up for grabs until the last round of the regular season on Saturday.

On Saturday Toby Flood came off the bench to join Goneva as a try scorer, crossing the line twice for his first tries of the season.

Niall Morris also touched down on his 50th start in Tigers colours.

A dominant scrum, which was well on its way to the line, was rewarded with a penalty try. Sale showed character to rally with three tries of their own through Michael Paterson, Henry Thomas and Johnny Leota before Leicester scrum half David Mele had the final say on the try scoring front.

Leicester appear to be doing their age old trick of peaking just at the right time with returning stars like British and Irish Lions Geoff Parling giving the team a boost in experience for the business end of the season.

Parling’s return comes at an opportune time as Leicester still have a lot to play for in perhaps their toughest home assignment of the season when Tigers face runaway league leaders Saracens on Saturday.

Should Northampton do the unthinkable and lose at home to London Wasps and Leicester win they could even sneak a home semi-final.

If both Saints and Tigers win then they will face each other at Franklin’s Garden’s, which with Leicester’s incredible record against Northampton is a favourable draw for Leicester.

However should Leicester lose to Clermont slaying Saracens and Bath beat Harlequins then they could face Saracens again away in the semi-finals.