Newcastle Falcons’ Fijian flyer Vereniki Goneva hopes to sow the seed of doubt in Saracens’ minds when the Aviva Premiership and European champions come to Kingston Park Stadium on Sunday.
The winger is in a rich vein of form with six league tries this campaign, running second in the Opta stats for metres made all season and having topped last week’s charts for line-breaks, metres and carries.
Showing no signs of slowing down at the age of 32, the former RPA players’ player of the season has made a speciality of pilfering interception tries in recent months – a trend he is out to continue this weekend.
Goneva said: “I just sense the opportunity for interceptions.
“It’s not an easy thing to explain but when we are defending for a few phases I get the feeling they’re going to go for the big pass, and it’s just about that anticipation. Before the guy has even started passing the ball I can see what’s going to come, and I just go from there.
“Luckily in the last few weeks it has paid off, but I guess opposition teams will be looking out for it now. Even if it means they don’t throw the wide pass I suppose it acts as a bit of a deterrent, but I hope Saracens still chuck a couple my way on Sunday!”
With a top-six finish still a realistic ambition for a Falcons side who have seen a marked improvement this season, Goneva admitted last week’s loss at Exeter was a bump in the road after a promising first half in which he scored one of two Newcastle tries.
“The team overall are disappointed with what we put out last weekend at Exeter,” he said.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the boys but to come away with no points after the start we made – I think we can be better than that.
“Saracens this weekend is a massive challenge for us, because we want to put right what happened last weekend when we struggled in the second half. Exeter are a good side and we always knew it would be a tough game, but we have a chance now to show what we are really about.”
Goneva added: “Every game in the Aviva Premiership is a hard game, and that’s the same for Saracens as it is for us. They are going to come up here knowing they will meet a good Newcastle side, knowing it is a big challenge and I think it will be an exciting one for the fans.
“The boys’ confidence is still there. We just need to make sure we play for the full 80 minutes on Sunday and get the result. I feel we can do that.”
Topping the Falcons’ Premiership try stats for the season, the Fijian added: “Personally, it’s nice to be scoring a good number of tries recently, but I’m just finishing off the good work of other people. The forwards are putting in a lot of hard work and creating opportunities, and hopefully we can keep them coming.
“We’ll see if I can add to that on Sunday, but the main thing is that it’s a massive game for the team and one that we want to win. Our supporters were great during our last home game against Northampton [a 46-31 Falcons victory], we look forward to playing at home and our crowd give us so much love. Beating Saracens would be a great way to repay them.”
Tickets for Sunday’s 2pm kick-off are available by calling 0871 226 6060.