Team news: Goneva back for The Big One

Friday 22 March 2019 Written by: Adam

The Fijian wowed the crowd during last season’s fixture at the home of Newcastle United with his Alan Shearer try celebration and, having overcome a calf injury, now forms part of a side heading out in search of their third successive league victory following wins over Wasps and Worcester Warriors.

England flanker Mark Wilson captains the team having played in all of his country’s Six Nations games, Scotland centre Chris Harris also slotting back in after shining in last weekend’s Calcutta Cup thriller at Twickenham.

Fiji No 8 Nemani Nagusa earns a start having impressed from the bench at Wasps a fortnight ago, scoring one try and creating another as the Falcons narrowed the gap between themselves and top-flight safety to just three points going into the final six rounds.

Open-side John Hardie comes in as the only other change, the Scotland flanker earning man-of-the-match honours during his last game at St James’ Park when his country defeated Samoa there in a Rugby World Cup classic.

The Falcons’ only previous outing at the home of Newcastle United a year ago almost trebled the club’s record crowd when 30,174 supporters witnessed their 25-22 home victory over Northampton Saints, with strong sales figures again being shown for Saturday’s 5.30pm kick-off.

A free fan plaza will be in place behind the Gallowgate End from 12 noon, director of rugby Dean Richards looking forward to the occasion.

“St James’ Park is an incredible venue, it will be a big home crowd and a really special day for the boys,” said the former England and Lions star.

“An important aspect will be our mental preparation and how we deal with everything going on around the game, but the mood in the camp is really positive and everyone is just looking forward to it.”

Granting full respect to Saturday’s opponents, Richards added: “Sale Sharks are having a good season, they are very well coached by Steve Diamond and his staff and they are in the top half of the table on merit.

“They will definitely offer us tough opposition but we feel like we are in a good place at the moment – the boys are enjoying their rugby, we’re starting to get guys back from injury and internationals and there is a great buzz around the club.

“We’ve got six games left during a crucial run-in to the Gallagher Premiership season and still a bit of ground to make up, but we’re carrying form with us at the moment.

“Saturday is another opportunity for us to continue that resurgence in front of a big crowd at a tremendous venue, and we’d urge as many people as possible to come down and be part of a great occasion.”

Tickets for The Big One are available by [**clicking here**][1] or calling 0344 372 1892. Tickets will also be available to buy from St James’ Park on the day but will incur an additional £5 charge to those purchased before match-day.

**Newcastle Falcons team to face Sale Sharks (Saturday, 5.30pm, St James’ Park)**

15 Simon Hammersley

14 Vereniki Goneva

13 Chris Harris

12 Josh Matavesi

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Toby Flood

9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Sam Lockwood

2 George McGuigan

3 Logovi’i Mulipola

4 Calum Green

5 Andrew Davidson

6 Mark Wilson (captain)

7 John Hardie

8 Nemani Nagusa


16 Kyle Cooper

17 Adam Brocklebank

18 David Wilson

19 Evan Olmstead

20 Gary Graham

21 Sam Stuart

22 Brett Connon

23 Johnny Williams

**Sale Sharks**

15 Luke James

14 Denny Solomona

13 James O’Connor

12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg

11 Byron McGuigan

10 Sam James

9 Faf de Klerk

1 Ross Harrison

2 Rob Webber

3 WillGriff John

4 Josh Beaumont

5 James Phillips

6 Tom Curry

7 Ben Curry

8 Jono Ross (captain)


16 Curtis Langdon

17 Tom Bristow

18 Joe Jones

19 Bryn Evans

20 Cameron Neild

21 Gus Warr

22 Cameron Redpath

23 Arron Reed

**Referee:** Craig Maxwell-Keys