Leicester Tigers have had a tough time over the last few seasons, with the 10-time Premiership champions not playing as well as they have done historically. However, amongst the poor team they have had, there have been individually brilliant players. Tonga full-back Telusa Veainu has been one of those, and whenever he has played, Leicester have always had an extra threat on the pitch.
This try, scored against Wasps in the Premiership this season, was one of the reasons why Tigers fans loved him.
Here, we see how Wasps are in attack, and have a good setup. They have penetrated Leicester’s defensive line, and are looking to take advantage of the Tigers’ ropy defence. Veainu is in the green circle, and we can see how he is always on the hunt for an opportunity to get his hands on the ball.
Wasps have played the ball down the line, but there are two things wrong with what they do. Firstly, fly-half Jacob Umaga, who hasn’t made too many mistakes this season, tries to pass the ball to his teammates in the wide spaces, but the ball is spilt, and ends up possibly going forwards. The second thing is that the two players in the wide spaces have left a large gap between them, which would be a good thing to have if Wasps had got the ball. However, with Veainu lurking, and the ball loose, they needed to now close the gap. They did try to, but just a little too late.
The green arrow shows Veainu’s run as he picks up the ball, showing you how well he reads the game and ensures he is first to this loose pass.
If we move it on a little, we see now how Veainu has run through the Wasps defence, and is now clear through on the try line. He still has the length of the pitch to run, but he does so, and this is why he is such a threat to opposing teams.
The space he ran through was the yellow line marked on the first image, which is why it was important to mention that, and shows why it was a mistake for the Wasps players not to close it down earlier than they did when the ball went loose. Had they done so, Veainu would have needed to run outside them, where there was a greater chance that he might have been tackled, and the Leicester counter-attack halted.
Instead, because Veainu had made his way through the line, he is now behind the Wasps players, and has a clear route through to the try line at the other end of the field. This was another try where it wasn’t necessarily the most tactically complex, but there were some interesting points to make about why it came about.
Veainu has moved to Stade Francais in the Top 14 this summer, as one of the five players (the others being Manu Tuilagi, Greg Bateman, Noel Reid and Kyle Eastmond) who refused to sign a contract with lessened wages, which the other members of the squad did agree too. However, with moments like these in his time at Welford Road, the fans will surely miss him.