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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 May 2007, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Typhoon Tuilagi whips up a storm

By James Standley
BBC Sport at Twickenham

Alesana Tuilagi on the way to his second try for Leicester at Twickenham
Tuilagi lies in wait for England at the World Cup in September
Both the elements and the elemental conspired against Gloucester as they were hammered 44-16 by Leicester in Saturday's Guinness Premiership final at Twickenham.

The elements came in the form of a cloudburst 15 minutes before kick-off which saturated the turf.

The elemental came in the form of Leicester's Samoan powerhouse Alesana Tuilagi.

The former meant Gloucester, shorn of many of their most physical players such as Mike Tindall and Marco Bortolami, could not play the kind of fast-moving, expansive game they needed if they were going to out-flank the bigger, more powerful Tigers side.

Whereas the latter did exactly what was expected.

The 26-year-old man of the match scored two barn-storming tries and personified Leicester's physical dominance.

Tuilagi has been garnering rave reviews all season and his performance on Saturday suggested he may be the most destructive ball carrier the game has seen since Jonah Lomu was in his prime.

It's fantastic playing with him, although come the World Cup I won't be so keen

Leicester captain Martin Corry

Leicester captain Martin Corry was effusive in his praise of the 18-stone winger.

"He's an exceptional player and his finishing is immense," said the Tigers number eight.

"The pleasing thing is his improvement this season. He's always had the raw materials and he's worked exceptionally hard at his game.

"I can't speak highly enough of the bloke. He's an exceptional talent and one of those players you are just delighted to have on your side."

Tuilagi himself was modest after the match. Quietly spoken off the pitch, he prefers to do his talking on it.

He was given a stage to perform by the Leicester pack and was keen to pay tribute to the efforts of the men at the sharp end.

"All the good things came from the forwards," he said.

Leicester celebrate winning the Premiership title on Saturday
Leicester are two thirds of the way to an unprecedented treble

"They dominated the game and created big space outside for the wingers and the rest of the backs - that's where my opportunities came from."

Gloucester's James Simpson-Daniel said before the game that the only way to stop Tuilagi was to try and "chop him down" by tackling round the legs.

Unfortunately for Ryan Lamb, he found it was like trying to chop down a 100mph giant redwood without an axe.

Lamb was happy to take the blame for Tuilagi's try double, but you suspect he will not be the last fly-half to struggle when the Leicester man comes flying down the 10 channel, something England will need to bear in mind when they meet Samoa in the group stages of the World Cup.

The last time Tuilagi played against the world champions, in November 2005, he was sent off after taking out the airborne Mark Cueto and then exchanging punches with Lewis Moody.


He is not keen to dwell on that incident, or look further ahead than the Heineken Cup final on 20 May.

"I'm just focusing on next week's game first. It's a big, big game," he said.

"Wasps will be waiting for us and it's been a long time since we last won the Heineken Cup."

But his performance on Saturday will give a few England fans sleepless nights as they consider the damage he could wreak in Nantes on 22 September.

Corry may well be on duty that night for England, and he admitted: "It's fantastic playing with him, although, come the World Cup, I won't be so keen."

And if a forward like Corry, who stands 6ft 5in and weighs in at 17st 11lb, is prepared to admit to concerns about facing a rampaging Tuilagi, then you know the Samoan is something very special indeed.

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Gloucester 16-44 Leicester
12 May 07 |  English
Gloucester must get physical
11 May 07 |  English
We must outsmart Tigers - Ryan
10 May 07 |  English
Brains and brawn bolster Tigers
09 May 07 |  Rugby Union
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08 May 07 |  English
Leicester 26-14 Bristol
05 May 07 |  English
Gloucester 35-13 Bristol
28 Apr 07 |  English


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