There is nothing that gets the heart pumping quite like a spectacular try and three of Aviva Premiership Rugby’s most prolific finishers picked up silverware for their efforts at last night’s Premiership Rugby Awards.
Newcastle Falcons’ Vereniki Goneva – who was also named Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season – and Josh Adams of Worcester Warriors shared the Top Try Scorer award, while another Falcon, Sinoti Sinoti, walked away with the Citizen Try of the Season.
There were 776 tries scored in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season – the most ever, beating the 750 tallied in the 1999-2000 campaign.
Twenty-six of those came from Adams and Goneva, who crossed the whitewash 13 times apiece, and after collecting his award at a glittering ceremony at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel, Warriors flyer Adams talked about the buzz that dotting down gives him.
“Try-scoring as a winger is a bit like goalscoring in football as a striker,” he said. “It’s important and some players look to us to get the tries in the same way footballers look to the strikers to get goals.
— Worcester Warriors 🏉 (@WorcsWarriors) May 16, 2018
“It’s important to me, I do get a kick out of scoring tries and it’s something I practise in training – I practise my finishing and all the aspects that go along with that like speed and agility.
“It’s been quite an up-and-down season from a club point of view but personally it has been a season to remember.
“I got my first cap for Wales which was a special for me and that came off the back of some really good team performances towards the back-end of Christmas and the start of January with Worcester.
“Obviously I’m delighted to be joint-top try scorer, especially with the someone of the quality of Niki Goneva – he’s been doing it in the Premiership for a number of years now.
“If I can keep scoring this many tries until the same age as Niki (34), I won’t be doing too badly!
“Hopefully this is something for me to build on and a target to try and better next year.”
Goneva’s tries have helped Newcastle to their best Aviva Premiership Rugby season since they lifted the title two decades ago, finishing fourth in the regular-season table with a first-ever semi-final against Exeter Chiefs now awaiting them on Saturday.
And the Fijian’s director of rugby Dean Richards lauded his winger’s incredible skill and longevity at aged 34.
Richards said: “Even in a season like we are having, it is hard not to single Niki out when he has performed to such a consistently high level throughout, doing it time and time again, and he is right up there in the world-class bracket for me when it comes to finishing.
“He defies the ageing process with the physical condition he keeps himself in, he is a phenomenal athlete but also has a thorough understanding of the game and how he can influence it.
“The way he carries himself as a person is just something else, he is very selfless in everything he does but it’s clear to everyone what an important player he is for Newcastle Falcons as a club and Aviva Premiership Rugby as a competition.”
Samoan international Sinoti often lines up on the opposite wing to Goneva at Kingston Park but has just as impressive a nose for the whitewash.
His sensational score against Exeter Chiefs in Round 13 was voted by the public as the Citizen Try of the Season.
— Chris Lishman (@chrislishman1) May 16, 2018
He picked the ball up tight to the left touchline inside his own half, showed pace and power to blaze past the first defender before a cheeky step left Chiefs winger James Short stumbling and he had the gas to slide over in the corner.
Team-mate Joel Hodgson collected the award on the 32-year-old’s behalf and after watching from the bench that day shortly before coming on, he has vivid memories of the score.
“If you look at the clip of the try, I’m the one jumping up and down in the background with the beanie on, so that’s my contribution!” laughed Hodgson.
“Seeing that live and the footwork that was involved was incredible. Most players who tried that would have done both ACLs! It was a brilliant step and fantastic to watch.
“Sinoti is a brilliant lad – he’s really chilled, very humble and takes it very easy on us in training. He doesn’t make any of us look like a fool, which he could easily do!
“He’s very passionate about what Newcastle Falcons are doing and he wants to do the best for the boys he plays alongside, which is a testament to him.”